Belichick’s Contrarian Approach to Recruiting

Xtra Effort has discovered that some of our more innovative and successful clients have embraced an approach to identifying talent that echoes Belichick. Specifically, to have a deep understanding of what skills are truly needed for success within a given time period, process, and role. This helps them better SEE the right talent at the right time, and prevents them from ignoring great talent because the candidate does not fit a fixed mold.

The metaphor may quickly become apparent to you within this article. It is a great read.

If a top sales person consistently surpasses quota, generates exceptional net new logos, and earns 2x his/her base salary … should they be disregarded because they have more than three jobs in the past six years within the start-up ecosystem or because you are unfamiliar with their employer names?

By Nora Princiotti, Globe Correspondent
Among the hypotheses surrounding Jamie Collins’s sudden departure was the sticky theory that the All-Pro linebacker had deviated from the way the Patriots normally go about their business. Collins’s presumptive replacement, Elandon Roberts, has done all he can to indicate that he will fall in line. Moving slowly and speaking deliberately, taking care to remove his cap in front of half a dozen cameras, Roberts played the part of a perfect Patriot on Tuesday. “Whatever the team needs done I try my best to get it done in practice, and that’s how I take every week,’’ Roberts said. Though Roberts will not replace all of Collins’s snaps, the rookie sixth-rounder out of Houston will likely be asked to fill a larger role. It would not be the first time he’s emerged from relative obscurity. Bill Belichick first took note of Roberts while watching Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds play against Houston. Reynolds passed for more than 300 yards, but Belichick kept finding himself glued to the Cougars’ middle linebacker. Intrigued, Belichick went to find some video. What he saw was what Dont’a Hightower called Roberts in an interview on WEEI: “a torpedo.’’ “Elandon had a lot of plays that were not always tackles for losses, but they were plays on the line of scrimmage as opposed to dragging a guy down after he’s gained 6 yards,’’ Belichick said last month. “To me, there’s a kind of difference in those types of tackles, in that kind of production.’’ That year, his senior season at Houston, Roberts led the nation with 88 solo tackles, yet he was not invited to the NFL Combine. One issue was his size. Standing 6 feet and weighing 235 pounds, Roberts is small for an NFL linebacker. Another red flag was that Roberts only had one productive year in college. He played a year at FCS Morgan State and made 107 tackles, which earned him a scholarship at Houston. He rarely played for the Cougars as a sophomore or junior, however, before his breakout senior season. “Really, that’s a tough one,’’ Belichick said last month. “You’re like, if this guy is so good, why did he not play? Why wasn’t he out there?’’ Roberts’s stock rose at Houston’s Pro Day, where he recorded a 4.60 40-yard dash that some scouts clocked even faster. He was supervised by former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, now an assistant coach with the Houston Texans. At that time, full of desperation just to get a chance to make an NFL roster, Roberts was more outspoken. “The team that pulls the trigger on me is getting the best linebacker in the draft,’’ Roberts told the Houston Chronicle after the Pro Day. “The team that takes me is definitely getting a steal. When they get that, I’m going to the Super Bowl and be a Hall of Famer.’’ The Patriots selected Roberts 214th overall and so far he’s proven himself right — at least the part about being a late-round steal. It was a mild surprise that Roberts made the 53-man roster out of training camp over Kamu Grugier-Hill, and he played just six defensive snaps in the first four weeks of the season. Roberts’s breakout game came in Cleveland, where he led the Patriots with six tackles, a handful of them highlight-reel plays against All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas and running back Isaiah Crowell. The feeling watching Roberts play against the Browns was similar to the one Belichick must have had watching him against Navy: Who is that guy? Roberts has played 122 defensive snaps in the last four weeks. He has registered 12 tackles and started against Buffalo in Collins’s stead, playing on first and second downs as a harbinger of the trade, which happened a day later. Roberts’s success no doubt made dealing Collins an easier decision. Though linebackers coach Brian Flores said that multiple players will be used to replace Collins, and the Patriots are more likely to use a longer, faster player such as Barkevious Mingo on passing downs, they’re happy to have an opportunity to use Roberts more. “He’s earned playing time,’’ Flores said Tuesday. Roberts said he does not feel added pressure. “No pressure, it’s the name of the game,’’ he said. “You know, I’m just going to take whatever I need to do once again, in practice, and we’re going to execute it in the game.’’

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