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Sources Tell Us: What we're hearing at East-West Shrine Game

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John Rieger / USA TODAY
Ben Heeney was a standout on a Jayhawks defense that was among one of the worst in FBS.

Editor's note: NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein is in St. Petersburg, Fla., this week, scouting the players at the East-West Shrine Game. Besides watching the daily practices, he's also talking to NFL scouts, agents and the players themselves. Here is some of what he heard on Tuesday:

The scoop: More than one NFL observer here watching the practices commented on how Kansas inside linebacker Ben Heeney is generating draft buzz, more than I had anticipated.

Date: Saturday, Jan. 17
Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network


2015 NFL Draft coverage:

The skinny: Heeney checked in at 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds, which is undersized by NFL standards. But conversations with multiple personnel men yielded the same result: Heeney can play in the league. NFL teams love production, and when it comes to production as a tackler, Heeney was near the top with 127 total tackles, 17 of them for loss. Heeney plays the game downhill and he continued to do that in practice on Tuesday by consistently beating offensive linemen to the spot and disrupting the running game.

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The scoop: "I really like his power a lot. He's not going to be dynamic outside of his box, but he's got really noticeable power, and that keeps you in the league a long time." -- AFC scout on Louisville guard John Miller

The skinny: He won't make sense for teams that like to run stretch plays and get their offensive linemen in space, but Miller flashed plenty of power in his hands and an ability to sit down and anchor against pass rushers in one-on-one drills throughout the morning session.

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The scoop: "The guy who impressed me the most on defense today who I went up against was that linebacker from Michigan State. He was hitting out there." -- North Dakota State running back John Crockett on MSU LB Taiwan Jones

The skinny: In a league that is becoming more and more speed-oriented, Jones is a throwback. At 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, he brings the hammer with him on every play and is a true "take-on" linebacker. Dishing out as much and maybe more punishment than he takes from offensive linemen. Personnel men confide that his size and ability against the run will continue to push him up draft boards even if he is a little limited in coverage.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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