Bill Belichick may have lost a 20-year companion in quarterback Tom Brady this offseason, but he's still got some of his most trusted front-office confidants on speed dial. As The Athletic's Jeff Howe reported Monday, the longtime New England Patriots coach still counts Nick Saban and Chip Kelly, two of college football's most high-profile coaches, among his top unofficial scouting advisers.
It's not unusual for head coaches to make connections across the country when it comes to seeking opinions on incoming NFL talent, but Belichick, in particular, is "not shy about returning to his preferred sources of information." Those sources, more often than not, just happen to be Saban and Kelly, who oversee the football programs at Alabama and UCLA, respectively.
Saban, who's served atop the Crimson Tide staff since 2007, spent 1991-1994 as Belichick's defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns. He's the Patriots coach's "most famous confidant," Howe notes, mostly because he "speaks the same language" in player evaluation -- highlighting very specific "critical factors" for each position and scouting only players that check those boxes ahead of each year's draft.
Kelly, who hailed Belichick as inspiration during his own short-lived run as an NFL head coach, failed to implement his micromanagement style at the pro level and has struggled to replicate success he had at Oregon while coaching UCLA. But he and Belichick remain close friends, per Howe, and is a regular part of the Pats coach's outreach in the college ranks. (Just this offseason, he apparently told Belichick "everything he needed to hear" about UCLA tight end Devin Asiasi, the team's third-round pick.)
"The one thing that makes (Belichick) such a special coach is he leaves no stone unturned," Kelly told Howe. "He is always going to make sure that he gets every question asked before he makes decisions. He is so thorough and so detailed in everything that he does that he is always going to follow up on it."