The Zay Flowers hype train is picking up steam, and the Patriots are apparently among the teams trying to get a front row seat.
Flowers was arguably the biggest name down at the East-West Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas last week, and several teams, including the Baltimore Ravens, did their best not the let the electric Boston College receiver out of their sight.
But New England, which selected Flowers for their West team roster, made sure it got more than enough time with the much-hyped prospect.
“The Patriots, for lack of a better term, were on Zay Flowers,” said EJ Snyder, co-host of the Bootleg Podcast, who was on the ground for Shrine Bowl practices. “There’s a buzz there. There’s a connection being made already. A lot of people were penciling him in as a future Patriot.
“There was talk that the Patriots basically said, ‘We’ll come and coach the game, but we want Zay. If Zay’s going to be there, we want him on our team.’ That’s not confirmed, but there was a lot of line-drawing, a lot of smoke and fire about the Patriots and Zay.”
It wasn’t just Patriots coaches that were all over Flowers, either, according to Snyder. The team’s social media team and reporters were also following the receiver with rapt attention, signaling the intense interest in the local product.
On the field, the potential first-round prospect had a target on his back from the moment he stepped between the lines, and he delivered.
“It took about three plays to see Zay shine against a very good cornerback group who were all gunning for him, by the way,” Snyder said. “He was ‘the guy.’ Multiple corners said ‘I want Zay. That’s why I’m here. Give me him because I know he’s the guy everybody’s looking at. That means they’re going to have to look at me if I shut him down.’”
Flowers is used to that, of course, and it didn’t stop him from putting up 1,077 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior at Boston College despite having every defensive game plan trained on him.
Right now, Flowers looks like a late first-round or early second-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. But a lightning-fast 40-yard dash time and strong NFL Combine could vault him into consideration for the Patriots’ No. 14 overall pick.
With six receivers going in the first round of the 2022 draft, including a run on receivers in the first 12 picks, it’s not inconceivable that Flowers could go much higher than some mock drafts suggest.
If that happens, don’t be surprised if the receiver-needy Patriots are the team that pulls the trigger.