Zay Flowers making a case to be a Patriot at the Shrine Bowl?

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The Patriots have only ever taken one receiver in the first round of the NFL Draft under Bill Belichick—N’Keal Harry in 2019. (That didn’t go very well.)

In a year when they desperately need to surround Mac Jones with better talent, perhaps they’ll consider doing so again (especially if they can’t swing a trade for a big-name receiver). It can’t hurt that one of the receiver prospects they might want is showing out before their eyes down in Las Vegas.

Boston College’s Zay Flowers, who is on the Patriots-coached West squad, has turned heads at Shrine Bowl practices with several eyes in attendance saying the local product’s speed, quickness and route-running are simply “different” from everyone else participating in drills.

His two reps against University of Alabama-Birmingham’s Starling Thomas stood out for the ease of separation Flowers generated, adding more hype to comparisons of his movement skills to Antonio Brown and his acceleration to electric playmakers like Jaylen Waddle.

Leaving him one-on-one against college players feels unfair at this point.

Additionally, Evan Lazar of reported Flowers has been running low 4.3s in the 40-yard dash leading up to the NFL Combine, which would almost certainly vault him into the NFL Draft’s first round despite Flowers checking in at just 5-9 and 182 pounds.

If you can get past the lack of elite size, you’ll see a playmaker that might be the most dynamic in the draft with strong route-running, deep speed to take the top off of defenses, the ability to create yards after the catch and a knack for making contested catches even at his size.

The Patriots probably shouldn’t spend the No. 14 overall pick on him, though the Washington Commanders showed they weren’t afraid to take a receiver with a similar size profile (Jahan Dotson) No. 16 overall in last year’s draft. New England typically uses its first-round picks to build through the middle of its teams (offensive line, defensive line), and top tackles like Peter Skoronski and Broderick Jones might still be available there.

But if the Patriots did one of their patented trade-downs to get into the 20s, it might be hard to pass on Flowers, who could immediately become the team’s most explosive offensive weapon.

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