Last season, the Falcons sent a pair of coaches to the East-West Shrine Bowl. This year, they’ll be coaching one of the teams.
Per ESPN’s chief news puppet Adam Schefter, the Falcons and Patriots will be on the sidelines for the February 2 game. It’s a nice opportunity for the coaching staff, which will have a chance to gets hands-on work with draft-eligible players.
Falcons and Patriots will be the two coaching staffs for this year’s East-West @ShrineBowl. With head coach and coordinator changes among non-playoff teams, the Falcons and Patriots best fit the criteria of coaching this year’s Shrine Bowl.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 11, 2023
This is the only pre-draft college all-star game to feature full coaching staffs from NFL teams, and stands out compared to last year, when multiple teams sent coaches. The Falcons’ staff will be on the ground for the week leading up to the annual game, which raises money for Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, and will be working to get their to be determined team ready to go.
There are some intriguing players who will be present, ranging from certified Dave Choate draft crush and wide receiver Zay Flowers from Boston College, Georgia edge rusher Robert Beal Jr., and LSU cornerback Mekhi Gardner, among many others. Atlanta has tended to land Senior Bowl attendees in the past rather than those players who prioritize the Shrine Bowl, but with the Shrine Bowl looking to challenge the Senior Bowl and the Falcons coaching a team up, that might shift a bit this year.
The Patriots have drawn heavily from the Shrine Bowl in recent years, snagging wide receiver Tyquan Thornton in the second round and picking up three other players in rounds 4-6 in 2022, so this is an opportunity they’re likely to relish. The Falcons haven’t drawn as heavily from this group, as I noted above, but perhaps that will change this year if there’s a player or two the franchise has been scouting that really stand out when Atlanta works with them. At the very least, it may give some undrafted free agents a leg up with landing with the Falcons.
Last year, the Falcons sent coaches Nick Perry and Lanier Goethe to coach defensive backs on the West team and defensive line on the East team, respectively, so this isn’t wholly unfamiliar territory for Atlanta. Let’s hope all goes well at the Shrine Bowl and the Falcons unearth a gem or two from their time there.