9 Shrine Bowl participants that could become future Patriots

The East West Shrine Bowl is upon us, and there is some history with the game and the New England Patriots.

In 2022, the Patriots selected Jack Jones, Pierre Strong Jr., and Tyquan Thornton in the NFL draft, while signing D’Eriq King, Brad Hawkins, and LaBryan Ray as undrafted free agents. All six players appeared in the Shrine Bowl that year.

Like most teams, the Patriots usually scout for future players on the practice squad, camp invites, or for future roster maneuvers. So if the Patriots select a player for the game, there’s a good chance they could meet again down the line.

New England will be coaching the West, while the Atlanta Falcons oversee the East. So they’ll get a better sense of how these prospects prepare, practice, and carry themselves. But they’ll also have plenty of chances in-game to see these players up close and personal from both sides.

A true advantage for both the Patriots and Atlanta Falcons is the fact that both NFL teams will get to start having conversations with the prospects, while watching them prepare first-hand.

For the sake of this piece, we wanted to focus on the players the Patriots will see all week, as this is the first time the game is featuring NFL coaching staffs. So the Patriots’ scouting may slightly change.

Here are the players fans should be keeping an eye on.

WR Zay Flowers, Boston College

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Flowers is someone a lot of Patriots fans will clamor for on draft night. He has been going anywhere from the mid-first to the late second round in mock drafts. But one thing is for certain: He can fly.

Flowers is probably the best separator in the draft and is extremely shifty with quick feet, fluid motion, and good hands.

He is someone New England will likely consider in the first two rounds as he is a perfect fit for what Bill O’Brien and the Patriots offense will try to do next season.

TE, Luke Schoonmaker, Michigan

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Since 2000, the Patriots have selected 10 players out of Michigan, which is their most drafted program. Schoonmaker is a potential late-draft selection for a Patriots team looking to develop a tight end internally, as Jonnu Smith is likely gone.

He’s a great blocker and has the traits that allow the Patriots to potentially mold him into a solid contributor.

OL, Jaxson Kirkland, Washington

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Kirkland seems like a perfect Patriot with good size, versatility, and just a solid player overall. He may go on day two, but the Patriots could use his skills on the outside of the line, where he excelled best in college.

Standing at 6-foot-7 and 340 pounds, he only allowed five sacks in five years. That’s exactly the type of franchise tackle the Patriots want to add to the team.

OL, Atonio Mafi, UCLA

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Mafi is an interior offensive line prospect that should fall anywhere from round two to round five. The Patriots should be no strangers to adding interior line depth, and Mafi is fun to watch. He sits at 6-foot-4, 339 pounds and is a mover in the run game.

OL, Connor Galvin, Baylor

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Galvin is a 6-foot-7 tackle with a quick first step and has all the skills necessary to become one of the best pass-blockers out of this class.

The Patriots took a Baylor senior in Tyquan Thornton last year at a position of need, and this year, many expect them to take a look at tackles across the board. Galvin is probably a day two or early day three pick in 2023. So the coaching staff will likely want to get a good look at him.

EDGE, Brenton Cox Jr., Florida

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Cox Jr. sits at 6-foot-3, 251 pounds and is one of the more underrated pass rushers in the draft. He will likely go on day three due to his lack of pursuit and his ceiling as a two-down player. But the Patriots could value his versatility and ability to drop into coverage to create disguised rushes, especially on day three.

With his SEC career and former 5-star recruit status, Cox Jr. should pop on tape in the shrine bowl.

LB, Mohamoud Diabate, Utah

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Diabate is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker/EDGE hybrid from a program that has been turning out good ones the last few drafts. He is another day two or day three prospect that could catch the Patriots’ eyes.

The knock on him is his lack of size and power that would limit him as a run defender on the edge. However, he should still be a fun watch, as he is a pure athlete.

S, Trey Dean III, Florida

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Dean III is a great athlete who is good in man, struggles in zone and occasionally misses tackles. Adding some weight to his frame could help him become a run-supporting safety at the next level and a potential replacement, if the Patriots lose Jabrill Peppers or Devin McCourty this offseason.

It’s also important to find a replacement for Adrian Phillips, who is getting up there in age.

K, Jake Moody, Michigan

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The Patriots need a young kicker with a strong leg that can also handle kick-offs. Moody could be a prime candidate with the team possibly looking to select a kicker at the end of the draft. So it’ll be something to keep in mind as the Patriots get a closer look at how he operates.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire