The New England Patriots' coaching staff was well-represented and reportedly very involved in Las Vegas this past week at practices ahead of Thursday's East-West Shrine Bowl.
So, after a full week of coaching the West Squad, which prospects caught the Patriots' eye? NFL Network's coverage of the Shrine Bowl on Thursday offered some notable clues.
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Over the course of the broadcast, NFL Network's analysts shared tidbits of their conversations with Patriots staffers throughout the week to reveal which players most impressed the coaches during practice sessions.
And while several players were mentioned, three prospects appeared to draw the strongest reviews from New England, according to 98.5 The Sports Hub's Alex Barth and NESN.com's Zack Cox, who transcribed the praise these players received on the broadcast.
Mo Diabate, LB, Utah
The Patriots' coaching staff "singled out" Diabate as "a guy who has real value," analyst Bucky Brooks relayed on the broadcast. That shouldn't be surprising based on Diabate's skill set: The 6-foot-3, 229 pound Alabama native played both inside and outside linebacker at Utah and is an exceptional athlete who excelled in both run and pass coverage for the Utes.
Diabate also spent three seasons at Florida competing in the SEC before transferring to Utah in 2022. As New England prioritizes getting faster and more athletic in the front seven, don't be surprised if Bill Belichick swoops in to snag Diabate on Day 3.
Isaiah Moore, LB, NC State
Moore was "one of the stars of the week" in Las Vegas, according to Brooks.
"The coaching staff couldn’t stop raving about him. All week, it was about the leadership, the communication, how he took command of the huddle."
At 6-foot-2, 236 pounds, Moore has a similar skill set as Diabate and comes with plenty of experience: He was a five-year starter and three-year captain at NC State. He wasn't even on some draft boards entering the Shrine Bowl, but it sounds like he's on the Patriots' radar and could be a target with linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Mack Wilson set to hit free agency.
Eric Scott Jr., CB, Southern Mississippi
Patriots coaches identified Scott as "the most comfortable corner they had in press coverage" during practices, according to the broadcast. Belichick also was seen chatting with Scott for a few minutes during a practice last weekend.
Scott has the size to play outside cornerback at 6-foot, 197 pounds, and while he might be a late-round pick (or go undrafted) coming out of the Sun Belt Conference, he could be a candidate to join New England as an undrafted free agent -- where he'd follow in the footsteps of Malcolm Butler and Jonathan Jones, among others.
The Patriots took three Shrine Bowl alumni in the 2022 draft alone -- wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, cornerback Jack Jones and running back Pierre Strong Jr. -- so it's worth keeping an eye on these and other Shrine Bowl prospects as the draft nears.