New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Watching game film is only part of what goes into the evaluation of a player for the NFL Draft. And while the Patriots got an up-close look at what players offer on the field this week at the Shrine Bowl, they had an experience just as if not more important after practices.

The pre-draft interview process is the great wild card when it comes to evaluating the NFL Draft. Media and fans can comb over all-22 footage and make their assessments, but that tape doesn’t show what’s going on behind the scenes. Only those in the meeting rooms can say that, and at times it has a massive impact on draft position.

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  • Take the example of Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean in last year’s draft. Dean was viewed as a consensus first-round pick, but ended up going late in the third round. That wasn’t due to anything on his tape, but rather a shoulder injury that was only disclosed to teams in meetings.

    This week, I had the rare chance to actually conduct some pre-draft interviews of my own with players at the Shrine Bowl. It wasn’t the 30-minute windows that NFL teams get, but I did get a few minutes to get to know these players better as people. In that, I learned some who definitely fit the personality type the Patriots tend to look for. Here are some conversations that stood out.

  • WR Zay Flowers, Boston College

    Flowers only had a brief moment to chat, but got into how he feels about living in Boston currently, and what he thinks his role would be in an NFL offense. He’s the top-ranked player that took part in this year’s Shrine Bowl.

  • S Trey Dean, Florida

    Dean was the best player on the field for the Patriots’ West team this week, and plays a position of need as well. He talked about what he brings to the table in terms of versatility, as well as his admiration for the Patriots’ coaching staff.

  • LB Mo Diabate, Utah

    In speaking with players being coached by the Patriots, I asked if they’d studied any film on the Patriots to prepare for the week. Some brought up players currently on the team, or going back to the last few Super Bowl runs. With Diabate though, he went to Tedy Bruschi and Willie McGinest, before going back even further. His answer about his transfer from Florida to Utah was also fascinating.

  • S Gervarrius Owens, Houston

    Owens is one of the few East players I spoke with, but given he plays the free safety position – a position of need for the Patriots – it was interesting to hear his thoughts on the evaluation of the safety position as a whole. He also shared some fun stories about his former college teammate at Houston, Marcus Jones.

  • WR Jake Bobo, UCLA

    Bobo grew up in northern Massachusetts, so we got into some local talk as well as discussing what he thinks his strengths are as a wide receiver. Come for the X’s and O’s conversation, stay for the beef talk.

  • DT Dante Stills, West Virginia

    Stills was a projected draft pick last year, but elected to return to West Virginia for a fifth season. He talked about that decision, as well as the one NFL player he’s hoping to meet.

  • OL Jaxson Kirkland, Washington

    Kirkland was one of the top offensive linemen at the game this year. He talked about making the move from tackle to guard last season, and growing up a Patriots fan.

  • OT Dalton Wagner, Arkansas

    Wagner gave a very honest assessment of his game right now. He also talked about his connections to the current Patriots team.

  • RB Travis Dye, USC

    Dye is one of the most Patriots-like prospects in this year’s Shrine Bowl. He gave an update on his season-ending injury and shared some insight into what it’s been like working with the Patriots’ coaching staff.

  • P Michael Turk, Oklahoma

    Turk definitely turned heads this week in Las Vegas. We chatted about his punting process and working with the Patriots’ special teams coaches.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

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