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When it comes to modern NFL coaches, the list starts with Bill Belichick. Other than his press conferences, it’s hard to find a flaw with the New England Patriots coach. In the past two decades, he’s built the franchise into a modern dynasty; a great deal of his success, however, starts in the NFL draft.

Bill Belichick might not be willing to share his trade secrets, but, over the years, we have gained some insight into the coach’s key to success. It turns out that he relies on one simple principle to make the best possible decisions.

Bill Belichick’s winning NFL career

At this point in his career, Bill Belichick has established himself as an incredibly successful NFL coach. He wasn’t always the big man on campus, however.

Belichick got his first taste of professional football as a special assistant for the Baltimore Colts. He then time with the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos before taking a job the New York Giants. Working with Big Blue, Belichick finally had a chance to truly make a name for himself. He came to town as a special teams coach, but worked his way up to defensive coordinator; his unit played a key role in two Super Bowl-winning campaign.

On the back of that success, Belichick earned his first head coaching job and joined up with the Cleveland Browns. After five unremarkable seasons, however, he went backward to move forward, accepting assistant coaching roles with the Patriots and Jets. In 2000, though, he returned to New England as the head coach; since then, the rest is history.

Incredible preparation is the key to NFL draft success

During his time in New England, Bill Belichick has made a killing in the NFL draft. From selecting Tom Brady in the sixth round and finding Julian Edelman in the seventh to snagging Rob Gronkowski before anyone else could, the Patriots head coach always seems to be one step ahead.

While Belichick does seem to follow certain rules on draft day, everything boils down to one specific principle: preparation. If the coach knows as much as he can about his potential players, he’s more likely to make a good decision.

Willie McGinest experienced that first hand in 1994 when he was a college prospect, and Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. “He came in to do the interview, and we were talking,” the linebacker recalled. “We’re sitting down, just me and him, and we’re talking about different things, football. And it went from football to knowing my background, it went to character.”

“He knew about my father’s past, he knew about elementary stuff, he knew about everything,” McGinest continued. “And when you talk about being prepared, he’s one of the most prepared people you’ll ever meet.”

The 2020 NFL draft will put Bill Belichick to the test

In New England, Bill Belichick was able to shape the entire franchise in his image. Heading into the 2020 NFL draft, however, he’ll have to start things again.

While there 53 players on an NFL roster, no one is more important than the starting quarterback; Belichick, of course, will be without Tom Brady this season. Even if he doesn’t select a signal-caller, though, the draft will be the start of a new chapter. For years, Belichick has had the reputation of a mad genius, capable of finding unknown players and slotting them into the lineup without missing a beat; now, he’ll have to show that system still works, even without Brady.

There’s no doubt that Bill Belichick will be incredibly prepared for the 2020 NFL draft. It’s the first moment of the rest of his (football) life.