Patriots Scouts Busy Evaluating Talent

Although many in the New England Patriots organization believed the primary focus of the team this week would be preparation for the AFC Championship, the team is accelerating their focus toward the 2011 season. Next year begins now, as the AFC East champs are in Orlando, Florida scouting talent at this week's East-West Shrine Game. Find out which players New England took an active interest in.

During former Broncos and Falcons head coach Dan Reeves East Team's morning practice, the Patriots took in a dominating performance by North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin. Austin, projected as a first-round pic was suspended for what would have been his senior season in Chapel Hill for accepting improper benefits. On Tuesday, Austin was nearly impossible for the East offensive line to block as he dominated in one-on-one drills.

Those in attendance, including Patriots scouts witnessed a very impressive opening performance from UCONN linebacker Gregory Lloyd II. Lloyd, son of Steelers great Greg Lloyd, was very quick to the football and showed good burst in pass rush situations. Lloyd, listed at 6'2", 247 lbs., is a perfect 3-4 linebacker and appears versatile enough to play both inside and outside. With the Patriots in dire need of bolstering their pass rush in 2011, Lloyd could be a great fit in Foxboro.

New England was busy during the afternoon's West practice, headed up by former Dallas Cowboys head coach and current Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The Patriots were very interested in Rice defensive end Cheta Ozougwu. Ozougwu made the West team offensive tackles heads spin as he routinely caused disruption in the backfield. The 6'2", 252 lb. former Rice Owl was a first-team All-C-USA selection as a senior.

Although the story of Danny Woodhead is taking on somewhat of a legendary status, New England may be looking for a running back with more prototypical size. Although the list of great Hawaiian running backs is well...short, Hawaii's Alex Green was the best back on the West squad. The 6'0", 220 lb. Green showed good hands out of the backfield and nice burst through the hole. Green became the first 1,000-yard rusher in the run-and-shoot era as he gained nearly 1,200 yards and ran for 18 touchdowns in the Warriors pass happy offense. Green's gaudy 8.2 yards per carry average makes one wonder why he wasn't given the ball more.

Always looking to improve their line, the Patriots conducted a sit-down interview with LSU offensive guard/tackle Joseph Barksdale. The 6'5", 336 lb. former Tiger was a starting right tackle in the SEC and worked on both the left and right sides during Tuesday's practice. Barksdale was best when operating at guard, as he was able to hold his own against some of the best defensive linemen the West team had to offer.

For more on who the Patriots are scouting, stay tuned in to Patriots Insider.


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