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Eight Irish seniors get invite to NFL Scouting Combine

Feb 7, 2013, 1:12 PM EDT

NFL Scouting Combine

While the excitement of Signing Day is still lingering, eight Notre Dame seniors received a very important invitation yesterday that will play a huge factor in their professional careers. The NFL’s annual scouting combine in Indianapolis released their official invite list and it was filled with Irish players.

Here are the following players who will be in Indianapolis for the annual cattle call.

Braxston Cave, C
Tyler Eifert, TE
Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE
Zeke Motta, DB
Theo Riddick, RB
Jamoris Slaughter, DB
Manti Te’o, LB
Cierre Wood, RB

It’s a really interesting list and just about every player invited has something to specifically prove. For Cave, it’ll be improving on his Senior Bowl performance, where the former Irish center struggled athletically when matched up with some elite prospects. There’s no doubt Cave will impress when it comes time to bench press or meet with individual teams, but he’ll need to show he can handle the demands of the position at the next level.

For Eifert, a solid combine performance could solidify his spot in the first round. Of the 19 tight ends invited to Indianapolis, Eifert is likely battling Stanford’s Zach Ertz’s for the top spot at the position. A solid performance athletically — not to mention an elite 40 time — would go along way towards locking down an early draft spot. It’ll be interesting to see those two match up physically, as they are basically mirror images on paper, with both measuring 6-foot-6 in the program, and Ertz having one pound on Eifert at 252.

For Lewis-Moore, who is less than a month into his recovery after knee surgery, it’ll be an opportunity for teams’ medical staffs to poke and prod the versatile defensive lineman. With an invitation validation his solid senior season, Lewis-Moore’s character and size will likely be enough for a team to take a flier on him.

Zeke Motta will likely need to shake the final game of his career, where he made 16 tackles, but missed a half-dozen more that led to big Alabama plays. But Motta is a physical specimen, a guy that should put up impressive numbers in this type of setting, and needs to show coverage skills and speed to match the physicality he played with this season. One game doesn’t define a career, but it’s something he’ll need to address and build on.

The big thing to watch for Theo Riddick is his forty-time. If he can get into the 4.5 range, he’ll likely have some team take a shot at him, if only for his versatility. While Riddick was a challenge to tackle in space, I’ve always been skeptical of his top-end speed, if only because he’s been chased down by defensive backs from Navy and BYU in the past. Riddick may have been the bell cow of the Irish offense in 2012, but to stick in the NFL, he’ll need to take advantage of the versatility he displayed during his four seasons in South Bend.

Perhaps the most interesting invite of the group belongs to Jamoris Slaughter. While he’s still appealing the NCAA for a sixth year, Slaughter’s name on the list shows the regard for him as a player, even while he’s making the recovery from a season-ending Achilles tendon injury. Slaughter’s measureables will be interesting — he’s just not as physically big and fast as he played in the Irish secondary. It doesn’t appear that Slaughter is back and ready to run and jump for potential employers, but the fact that he’s on the list means he’s on teams radar.

In what will be NFL team’s first opportunity to talk with Manti Te’o, expect a media circus as we get one more opportunity to rehash the post-script to Te’o’s heralded football career. Any team looking at Te’o will likely want to spend some time discussing the catfishing hoax, but they’ll also want to dig deeper into a future rock for an NFL defense. There’s little worry that Te’o will be able to ease any teams’ fear off the field. But he’ll need to show the size, speed and athleticism he displayed throughout the season, and make teams forget about the egg he laid against Alabama.

An invite to the combine was an important first step for Cierre Wood. Now he’s got to put up numbers that make a team believe he’s capable of being a feature back in the league. Skipping out on his final year of eligibility, Wood lost the chance to showcase his skillset for one final season as the featured back in an Irish offense that’ll be more explosive next season. So he’ll need to show the top-end speed many think he possesses and better than expected size and strength.

  1. bostonjan - Feb 7, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    I’m happy for each individual mentioned; and I’ll continue to root for each of these young men as they pursue their professionals careers.

    Perhaps of equal interest to this ND fan is the message potentially communicated to future Irish recruits regarding the level of player development achieved by each player at the respective football positions: OL, DL, LB, DB, RB, TE, with WR well represented last year.

    Message: Come to ND and earn an education for a life of success; and receive development of football skills that will prepare you for “the next level” if you possess the God given abilities to make it in the NFL.

    Maybe not unique; but clearly a compelling message.

  2. 808raiderinparadise - Feb 7, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Well for one I could only hope Te’o gets a fair evaluation and gets the right team to take him. He has an extremely high foobtall IQ and can sniff out plays and make tackles. Don;t think his athleticism will blow any teams away, but his motor will.

    Eifert to me is best suited for a great NFL career, the TE in the NFL is a weapon, even a teams 2nd TE option racks in catches every game. Tyler will be great no matter where he goes.

    As for the rest? Heck Motta can be a special teamer, Wood can make a roster a back-up ….

    Nothing crazy.

    What about Toma? To me Toma can suceed if Welker, Woodhead and Edelman do with Patriots ….He is the same mold to me.

    • tedlinko - Feb 7, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      Cierre, of all this group, is the one I worry may have shortchanged himself a bit by not coming back for a 4th year. With a full season, and a more experienced QB to start the year, it could have been a chance for him to really elevate his stock. That said, I wish him well.

      One thing it did was open up a slot for one of those blue-chippers we just signed, plus opens up carries for our inexperienced, but talent rich, stable of RBs.

      • jimbag1983 - Feb 7, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        I completely agree. While I think that he would have benefited from another year at Notre Dame, I understand that he has a son and family responsibilities and he is doing what he thinks he needs to do. It reminds me of Darius Walker – I thought that he could have had an outstanding senior season as the featured back on a team that could have really used him, but he went out for the draft, languished in the NFL for a few years, and is now thankfully I think in radio – although I am not sure if he finished his degree or not.

  3. ugetwutuask4 - Feb 7, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    ESPN’s Kiper projecting Daaa Bears will draft DJ Fluker O lineman from Bama and McShay projecting them to draft Manti Te’o with the 20th pick. I feel they need an O lineman but wouldn’t mind seeing Te’o in a Bears uniform while Urlacher shows him the ropes.

  4. ugetwutuask4 - Feb 7, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    ESPN’s Kiper projecting Daaa Bears will draft DJ Fluker O lineman from Bama and McShay projecting them to draft Manti Te’o with the 20th pick. I feel they need an O lineman but wouldn’t mind seeing Te’o in a Bears uniform while Urlacher shows him the ropes. However Kiper projects TB Bucs to draft Te’o at 13th pick.

  5. ugetwutuask4 - Feb 7, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    All that being said I think Eifert would make the best pick and fills a position of desperate need in the passing and running game for Da Bears. Sorry bout all Da Bear talk fellas!!

    • papadec - Feb 7, 2013 at 7:23 PM

      uget – no problem for me – no NFL team in Hawaii for Manti to go to. The way the Giants are cleaning house & salary, maybe some of these guys end up in NY/NJ.

  6. ajw21 - Feb 7, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Darius was a commentar for college football on fx this year. He could also be in radio but he was on tv as well. In hindsight him staying probably wouldn’t of helped his stock. His sen yr was the BAD year and not sure if he would of put up good stats. He would of been the whole offense and we had no line. Only time I have seen a player leave early(not counting ppl who get kicked off the team) and not get drafted.
    Go Irish!

  7. jerseyirish10 - Feb 7, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Let’s hope Manti goes to the combine and just blows them away. He’s had a rough month, so seeing him put up monster numbers, have great interviews and show NFL front office people that they will be getting a fantastic player and person, would be a good way to close that door and open a new one. For the others, I also hope they go and also put on a good show…always nice to hear an ND name on Sundays.

  8. idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 7, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    I look at this list and my immediate focus shifts to Cierre Wood, Manti, and Eif.

    With Eifert, I think Keith might have UNDERSTATED the elite speed comment. If Eifert runs a great 40 time (for a TE), I think he’ll go closer to the top half of round 1. There are 10 teams in the first 15 picks that could use an elite tight end. Tight Ends are the new black…they’re highly fashionable. His blocking ability is well documented. His pass catching is well documented. So, if his speed can split a seam in the NFL..he’ll be way up there.

    I don’t see Manti as the next Urlacher or Ray Ray, but more of a London Fletcher/Keith Brooking type…just 15 years of dependable play. A guy that the defense can count on every day, every year.

    With Cierre, I wouldn’t dare to have a clearer view of his future than he does, but his decision to leave ND always felt like more of a decision to get out of ND than it did to get into the NFL….if that makes sense.

    • irish4006 - Feb 7, 2013 at 6:35 PM

      Cierre is fun to watch when he is running well, typically north south. Looking at him though, it seems that he has something missing from his arsenal, not quite sure what it is. He had a few amazing games, esp. when he split his carries with another capable back; but there were times when it seemed the spark was not quite there. I am not an expert but I would have to think it was mental, if I had to take a guess.

      Another year would probably have helped a lot considering there will be a host of other potential stars at the RB position. I hope he gets drafted and lights things up in the next level. Good Luck, CW!

  9. fnc111 - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:22 AM

    To sum it up, two first rounders and a bunch of undrafted PFA’s.

    Too many question marks at RB next season. Kelly will be on the hot seat after another loss to scUM.

    • andy44teg - Feb 8, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      You keep saying that..but you are aware that ND beat them last year, right???

  10. fighting69th - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    I think Motta will be a solid starter. He was the only one who could bring anyone down in the NC game. I think he will be a steal for who ever gets him. Notre Dame always has solid Safeties.

  11. oldcat157 - Feb 10, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    Manti reminds me of a Lofa in Seattle. Can play tough but his body is going to break down in a few years. He blew up other teams with high school players but got romped by Alabama with real NFL talent. Don’t expect much past his rookie contract.

  12. rheffero - Feb 13, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Another interesting conversation is the pipeline ND is building.

    2 other players that could have been on that invitee list if they did not decide to come back (Nix and Martin).

    While Martin sounded like a 3rd -4throunder, Nix would have been in that end of 1st-high 2nd round area.

    Next year, ND’s defense could be the headliners (Nix; Tuitt; Shembo; Jackson) to go with Martin.
    Then depending on their year, Fox, Calabrese, Spond, Lombard could get an invite.

    Then many defensive NFL prospects, that is something ND has not seen in awhile.

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