The New England Patriots aren’t just coaching NFL draft prospects at this week’s East-West Shrine Bowl. They’re also, of course, evaluating them.
And two reportedly have caught their eye in Las Vegas.
Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline on Tuesday reported members of New England’s staff “are telling people on and off the field they are enamored with two defensive players: Tyrus Wheat of Mississippi State and Taron Vincent of Ohio State.”
Here are Pauline’s scouting reports on Wheat, a versatile edge rusher, and Vincent, an undersized defensive tackle.
Wheat is very much a Patriots-style defender — he’s a bigger-bodied athlete who can rush the passer or play in space. He moved all around at Mississippi State because of his play-making ability and never developed at one position.
Still, Wheat has all the tools to line up as a 3-4 OLB in the Patriots’ scheme. He was on the Shrine Bowl Risers list on Sunday, as he was tough to stop and made plays all over the field. Vincent is a shorter (6-foot-1) defensive tackle and leverage lineman with outstanding quickness and movement skills.
Wheat and Vincent both are part of the Patriots-coached West Team. New England assistants Brian Belichick and Mike Pellegrino are coaching linebackers and D-linemen, respectively, with both also serving as co-defensive coordinators.
The Patriots selected four Shrine Bowl alums in last year’s draft — including second-round receiver Tyquan Thornton and fourth-round cornerback Jack Jones — and they’ll be very familiar with this year’s pool of prospects after spending a week coaching dozens of them. The Shrine Bowl running backs also will be players to watch after it was reported Thursday that New England intentionally stacked its West roster with James White-esque scat-back types.
New England also is scouting prospects at the other marquee college all-star showcase, the Senior Bowl, with D-line coach DeMarcus Covington serving as a defensive coordinator for that game.