While the New England Patriots are in the middle of preparations for the AFC Championship against the Broncos, their scouting department will have a busy week ahead as practices for the 89th East-West Shrine Game begin today.
Although the East-West Shrine Game doesn’t contain as much day one talent as the Senior Bowl, it is always a good opportunity to take a look at players who will be selected in days two and three as well as many who will go undrafted. Practices will be held through Thursday this week with the game being broadcast at 4:00 PM ET Saturday on NFL Network.
All of this being said, Dan Kadar of Mocking the Draft released his preview for the week of practices this morning. Here were a few players that Kadar mentioned that I think could be intriguing to the Patriots:
5. Gabe Ikard, C, Oklahoma
The 2014 draft won't have a center who is more athletic than Ikard. While Ikard may not be a powerhouse center who will seal out the middle, he can get out on the second level and pick off linebackers and defensive backs. For teams that like to run a lot of pulls, Ikard could be picked as a guard.
9. Shaquil Barrett, OLB, Colorado State
The Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year finished his senior season with 20.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. Colorado State lined him up as an end and split him off as a linebacker. At 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, teams will be monitoring his athleticism and movement to see if he's truly a linebacker going forward. If Barrett can show good movement skills, he can be a big riser this week.
10. Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville
Sometimes overlooked playing next to Calvin Pryor, Smith makes his name as a coverage safety. On zone plays, Smith has shown he can patrol the center of the field and break on the ball in a hurry. Smith isn't especially big, so some teams may look at him as a cornerback.
This should be a fun week to get familiar with the depth of the 2014 draft class. The Patriots have a lot of holes to fill, and should be getting at least two late compensatory selections that could very well be used on the pool of players participating in this game. Taking a look at the rosters, what players intrigue you heading into the week?