2013 NFL Combine

Nine Irish players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine

46 Comments

Notre Dame will have nine former players in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine. The premiere pre-draft talent evaluation session, taking place February 22-25 at Lucas Oil Stadium, will give NFL coaches, scouts and general managers a closer look at NFL prospects before the upcoming draft.

The following former Notre Dame players received invites:

George Atkinson III, Jr.
Bennett Jackson, Sr.
TJ Jones, Sr.
Zack Martin, Sr.
Troy Niklas, Jr.
Louis Nix, Sr.
Prince Shembo, Sr.
Stephon Tuitt, Jr.
Chris Watt, Sr.

After a few off years of producing talent, the NFL has looked kindly upon the prospects the Notre Dame football program has produced. Last season, the Irish had eight players invited to Indianapolis, with six drafted. The 17 prospects over the two year window is behind only LSU (24), Alabama (22), Florida State (22) and Florida (18).

Of course, not all prospects invited get drafted. Last year, Tyler Eifert parlayed his performance at the combine into a first round selection. Manti Te’o, the story of the combine as he was embroiled in his catfishing scandal, put up subpar test results, likely causing him to slip into the second round. Cierre Wood and Braxston Cave went undrafted last year.

The combine presents different opportunities for different Irish players. For Stephon Tuitt, it’s an chance to stake his claim as a first round defensive lineman. Physically, Tuitt must impress, both in measureables like height and weight, but also showing advanced athleticism during drills. The same goes for Louis Nix, who will likely raise a few eyebrows upon weigh-in, but should also impress with his quickness in individual drills and events like the shuttle run.

For as important as the combine is at the top of the draft, it may be even more important for players down the board. George Atkinson’s invite allows the former running back to display his greatest asset, his breakaway speed. If Atkinson blazes an elite time in the 40-yard dash, it could help a team take a flier on him in the late rounds. The same goes for Bennett Jackson, with his track background likely to come in handy.

Two bigger stories at the combine will likely be talent evaluators first look at junior Troy Niklas, who will show off a lot of impressive assets in Indianapolis. Physically, few tight ends will match what Niklas and his 6-foot-7, 270-pound frame can produce, and if Niklas is able to run in the 4.6 range, he’ll likely climb more than a few draft boards, pushing for the top spot among a crowded tight end position group.

Similarly, Zack Martin will have another chance to show his skills, though workouts in shorts and t-shirts tend to devalue what Martin is capable of doing on the field.

Notre Dame’s nine participants in the combine are the third most from a college football program, trailing just Alabama and LSU. The Irish’s two-year output is more players invited than the program produced over the previous five combines (2008-12).

 

Five Irish players sign UFA contracts

Matthias Farley
16 Comments

Notre Dame had seven players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, trailing only Ohio State, Clemson and UCLA on the weekend tally. But after the draft finished, the Irish had five more players get their shot at playing on Sundays.

Chris Brown signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Romeo Okwara will begin his career with the New York Giants. Matthias Farley and Amir Carlisle signed contracts with the Arizona Cardinal. Elijah Shumate agreed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After missing two seasons, Ishaq Williams will be at Giants rookie camp next weekend as well, working as a tryout player. Expect Jarrett Grace to receive similar opportunities.

Count me among those that thought both Brown and Okwara would hear their names called. Brown’s senior season, not to mention his intriguing measureables, had some projecting him as early as the fifth round.

Okwara, still 20 years old and fresh off leading Notre Dame in sacks in back-to-back seasons, intrigued a lot of teams with his ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker. He’ll get a chance to make the Giants—the team didn’t draft a defensive end after selecting just one last year, and they’re in desperate need of pass rushers.

Both Shumate and Farley feel like contenders to earn a spot on rosters, both because of their versatility and special teams skills. Shumate played nickel back as a freshman and improved greatly at safety during 2015. Farley bounced around everywhere and was Notre Dame’s special teams captain.

Carlisle might fit a similar mold. He played running back, receiver and returned kicks and punts throughout his college career. With a 4.4 during Notre Dame’s Pro Day, he likely showed the Cardinals enough to take a shot, and now he’ll join an offense with Michael Floyd and Troy Niklas.

 

Robertson picks Cal over Notre Dame, UGA

Demetris Robertson
11 Comments

Demetris Robertson‘s decision wasn’t trending in Notre Dame’s direction. But those that expected the Savannah star athlete to pick the in-state Bulldogs were in for a surprise when Robertson chose Cal on Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame’s pursuit of the five-star athlete, recruited to play outside receiver and hopefully replace Will Fuller, likely ended Sunday afternoon with Robertson making the surprise decision to take his substantial talents to Berkeley. And give credit to Robertson for doing what he said all along—picking a school that’ll give him the chance to earn an exceptional education and likely contribute from Day One.

“I am excited to take my talents to the University of California, Berkeley. The first reason is that the education was a big part of my decision. I wanted to keep that foundation,” Robertson said, per CFT. “When I went there, it felt like home. Me and the coaching staff have a great relationship. That’s where I felt were the best of all things for me.”

Adding one final twist in all of this is that Robertson has no letter-of-intent to sign. Because he’s blown three months through Signing Day, Robertson merely enrolls at a college when the time comes. That means until then, Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff will continue to sell Robertson on staying home and helping the Dawgs rebuild. Smart visited with Robertson Saturday night and had multiple assistant coaches at his track meet this weekend.

Summer school begins in June for Notre Dame. Their freshman receiving class looks complete with early enrollee Kevin Stepherson and soon-to-arrive pass-catchers Javon McKinley and Chase Claypool.

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame
Getty
6 Comments

Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.

Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.

Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
5 Comments

Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.

The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.

Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.