NFL Draft News and Rumors: Latest Buzz From the 2023 Shrine Bowl

PFN Draft Insider Tony Pauline shares the latest NFL Draft news and rumors from the 2023 Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas -- Zay Flowers, Will Levis, Brandon Staley, and more.

LAS VEGAS — Three days of Shrine Bowl practices are in the books, and we’re getting closer to the East-West Shrine Bowl game on Thursday evening. As the scouting community prepares to make its way to Mobile for three days of Senior Bowl practice, here’s the latest NFL draft news and rumors I’m hearing on the ground.

2023 NFL Draft News and Rumors From the Shrine Bowl

Tyrus Wheat and Taron Vincent on Patriots’ Radar

Coaching the Shrine or Senior Bowl gives teams a big advantage, and it seems the New England Patriots are taking full advantage of the opportunity. New England 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.

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 (6’1″) defensive tackle and leverage lineman with outstanding quickness and movement skills.

Ravens, Zay Flowers Connect

Sunday was the only day receiver Zay Flowers practiced, and he looked exceptional during his brief appearance. Flowers was on the field Monday in sweats as the West Team practiced.

Take from this what you will, but all session long on Monday, the Baltimore Ravens were connected to the hip of Flowers and stayed with him as he moved around the field. At times, it seemed the Ravens had multiple scouts escorting Flowers around the field, talking receiver technique with the Boston College product.

Will Levis — Missed Opportunity

Many on hand are wondering why quarterback Will Levis is not playing in one of the postseason all-star games. In fact, several reiterated what PFN mentioned late last week — Levis’ refusal to participate in the Shrine or Senior Bowl was a major missed opportunity.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

Further, we’ve not spoken to anyone who believes Levis is a good quarterback. Athlete? Yes. Big-armed thrower? Absolutely. Yet, almost everyone believed Levis needed a good showing in a game such as the Shrine or Senior Bowl to cement himself as a top-20 selection.

Why Wasn’t Brandon Staley Fired?

Most thought the Chargers would fire head coach Brandon Staley soon after the team’s historic collapse to the Jacksonville Jaguars during the opening round of the playoffs. But all the franchise did was release a few assistants. So, why was Staley spared?

In a nutshell, the Chargers could not afford to buy out Staley’s contract and then bring in a big-name replacement. As explained by a source from an NFC East team, the Chargers are the most cash-strapped team in the league. Large expenditures such as buying out million-dollar contracts are not in the budget.

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