The New England Patriots under construction coaching staff is back inside Gillette Stadium this week with their focus likely centered around the East-West Shrine Bowl.
New England’s staff will soon travel to Las Vegas for the Shrine Bowl as they were selected to coach the West roster. They will get an early first-hand look at a number of draft prospects throughout multiple practices and the Shrine Bowl game on Feb. 2.
Last season, New England selected four players who participated in the Shrine Bowl (Tyquan Thornton, Pierre Strong Jr., Jack Jones, and Sam Roberts). Now on the scene, it would be no surprise to see them dip back into this years class come April. As for who could interest them, let’s take a look at some potential offensive players.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA): Thompson-Robinson proved to be one of the most versatile players in college football as he was one of only two FBS quarterbacks to finish the regular season with at least 25 touchdown passes and 11 rushing touchdowns. Over the last two seasons, DTR has compiled over 5,500 passing yards, 1,000 rushing yards, and 69 combined touchdowns. Chip Kelly’s athletic QB is certainly one of the top creators with the football and New England will likely be closely monitoring his consistency as a passer.
Tommy DeVito (Illinois): While Thompson-Robinson has the high-end athleticism like many new-era QBs, DeVito fits a similar mold as past Patriots’ draft picks at the position. A Syracuse transfer, DeVito found a home in Illinois under former Patriots assistant Bret Bielema in 2022 and impressed. DeVito is an experienced college quarterback that is extremely accurate as his 69.9 percent completion percentage led the Big Ten and ranked fourth nationally.
Jack Colleto (Oregon State): Picking the 2021 Paul Hornung Award winner (Marcus Jones) worked out nicely for New England last season, so why not try it again? Colleto took home the award this season after lining up as a RB/FB and inside linebacker for the Beavers. He’s working with the running backs in the Shrine Bowl and New England could very much be eyeing the redshirt senior for a fullback role if they plan to reestablish the position on their roster in 2023.
Travis Dye (USC): Dye’s level of participation throughout the week will be interesting to monitor after he suffered a season-ending leg injury back in November. But, he’s a back that has Patriots written all over him. Dye began his collegiate career at Oregon before transferring to USC. He’s a strong three-down back (Oregon’s rushing and receiving leader in 2021) that can pass block and has played in nearly 60 games throughout his collegiate career. Even if he’s not full-go at the Shrine Bowl, New England will certainly be interested in speaking with him.
Travis Dye (@Babydye23) heads to @ShrineBowl with 30 career TD and totaling over 5,000 scrimmage yards— Shane Coughlin (@Shane__Coughlin) January 19, 2023
Boasts RS experience rounding out his four down versatility; averages 10.3 yards per catch in addition to 6.0 per rush #Earned #FightOn @uscfb https://t.co/3t9bQ84x4C pic.twitter.com/Y5ZcOOswxY
Mohamed Ibrahim (Minnesota): Ibrahim had a record-setting season for the Golden Gophers in 2022, breaking the school record for rushing attempts (320), rushing yards (1,665), rushing touchdowns (20), and 100-yard rushing games (10). He’s a downhill powerful runner who could help in potentially replacing Damien Harris.
Zay Flowers (Boston College): New England will get a front row seat to Boston College’s Zay Flowers, whose draft stock could quickly rise throughout the next few months. Flowers was one of the most productive receivers in the country in 2022, breaking the Eagles’ single-season record in receiving touchdowns (12), tying the record for receptions in a season (78), and producing the third most receiving yards (1,077) in a season. The 5-foot-10 Flowers is extremely explosive and strong after the catch, making him a potential perfect fit in New England’s slot/Z-receiver role.
Bryce Ford-Wheaton (West Virginia): Ford-Wheaton is a big-framed (6-foot-3) receiver who primarily played out wide throughout his Mountaineers career. He’s at this best using that frame to haul in contested catches, where his 18 this season was tied for fourth-most in the nation. Ford-Wheaton will likely be a late-round selection that New England could look to develop, while also potentially helping immediately on special teams.
JT Daniels ➡️ Bryce Ford-Wheaton— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 1, 2022
TOUCHDOWN WEST VIRGINIA
Luke Schoonmaker (Michigan): The Patriots’ highly-priced tight end room could be remodeled this offseason which could open the door for a late round draft pick at the position. Schoonmaker fits that bill after a productive season in which he set career highs in receptions (35) and receiving yards (418) for the Wolverines. He’s a smooth athlete for his size (6-foot-6, 250 lbs.) and is one of the best run-blockers at the position.
Jaxson Kirkland (Washington): Kirkland is the main name to watch in this group as he was projected to be a late-first, early-second round draft pick last year before returning to Washington due to an ankle injury. In his return, Kirkland played primarily at left guard after spending his first two seasons strictly at left tackle. In 491 pass snaps this season, he allowed zero sacks and just nine pressures. He has the size (6-foot-7, 340 lbs.) to transition back to tackle, which New England will likely experiment with in Vegas.
Dalton Wagner (Arkansas): The Patriots will likely look to add multiple tackles in the draft and Wagner could be an enticing day three option. Wagner is a mauler (6-foot-9, 337 lbs.) who aligned at right tackle for Arkansas this season. He allowed just two sacks on 418 pass block snaps and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 20th ranked tackle in all of college football.