Troy Brown spent time with Navy's Reynolds at Shrine game

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Troy Brown spent time with Navy's Reynolds at Shrine game

While Bill Belichick and his coaching staff prepare for the AFC Championship Game, the pre-draft process has kicked into another gear with Saturday's the East-West Shrine Game.

The Patriots are without a first-round draft pick this year -- one of the penalties handed down by the NFL after it alleged the team was illegally deflating game footballs during last year's AFC Championship -- but the Shrine game features rosters with plenty of players who will be taken in later rounds.

One of those players, someone the Patriots are already quite familiar with, is Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick grew up around Navy's football program -- where his father Steve served as a long-time scout and assistant for the team -- and he still keeps a close eye on the Midshipmen.

Over the last few seasons, Reynolds has stood out to anyone watching as he finished his career with an NCAA record 88 total touchdowns. He also broke the record for career rushing yards by a quarterback set by Michigan's Denard Robinson.

Reynolds won't be drafted as an NFL signal-caller, but he worked out as a running back before the Shrine game, and some believe he has a chance to find success as a slot receiver. (Reynolds did not participate in the Shrine game due to tightness in his back.)

Given Belichick's willingness to draft players without clear-cut positions and his appreciation for the Naval Academy, Reynolds has already been deemed a potential Patriots pick. Former scout and front-office executive Gil Brandt, who now writes for NFL.com, thinks New England would be the best fit for Reynolds' skill set.

"He cannot play the quarterback position in the NFL," Brandt wrote. "But because of his off-the-charts quickness, speed and athletic ability, he might be a Wes Welker-type of player, a slot receiver, for the Patriots. Belichick has the patience and creativity to find a spot for this outstanding player."

NFL Network's Mike Mayock has compared Reynolds to Patriots wideout Julian Edelman. In his eyes, both left college as undersized but athletic college quarterbacks who could fill a variety of roles in the slot, out wide, as running backs or kick returners. All those spots are new to Reynolds, though, and at this point he's just trying to get a feel for lining up somewhere on the field that's not behind center.

At the Shrine Game, Reynolds got a chance to hone some different skills with a pair of Belichick's friends in former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and former Patriots receiver Troy Brown. Weis was the head coach for the East team while Brown acted as the receivers coach and reportedly showed Reynolds the ropes when it came to returning punts.

Brown returned 252 punts and 87 kickoffs in his Patriots career, and he may be able to relay back to those at One Patriot Place just how quickly Reynolds picked up on some of the tricks of the trade.

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

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Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

Even for some of the nation's top athletes, confident 20-somethings with the rest of their (perhaps very lucrative) lives ahead of them, there's a feeling you just can't shake when Bill Belichick walks into the room. 

"When you first meet him, you're scared," said Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, per WBZ. "He's quizzing you. It's like a little test. But after you get done with the test, the quiz or whatever, drawing up the defense, it's pretty cool. They're real down to earth people. Really cool."

Belichick was spotted at Ohio State's pro day getting a closer look at McMillan and his teammates on Thursday. He then headed off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines showcase Friday.

During various scouting trips across the country, the Patriots appear to be showing significant interest in the incoming class of linebackers. Belichick spent some extra time with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham -- who's projected to be a first-rounder -- at his pro day. The team reportedly scheduled a meeting with a speedy linebacker from Cincinnati. And Matt Patricia caught up with Notre Dame linebacker James Onwualu once his workouts finished up on Thursday. 

As for McMillan, the 6-2, 240-pounder was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some question as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level.

PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

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PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

Tom E. Curran has Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports as a guest to discuss the Aaron Hernandez double homicide trial. Wetzel has been in the courtroom, and wrote this piece about the day Hernandez’s former friend Alexander Bradley testified in court. 

After speaking with Wetzel, Curran has Tim Rohan of MMQB.com on to discuss his day with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

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