Feb 26, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT
Notre Dame had nine players at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. To a man, they all left town improving their proverbial draft stock. We’ve already touched on what the nine-man Irish contingency meant to the football program.
Speed, strength and athleticism were on display by Irish prospects, with statistical gains under Paul Longo’s direction quite obvious. As message-board sage FunkDoctorSpock points out, since 2008 only three Notre Dame prospects clocked a sub 4.51 40-yard dash: David Bruton, Golden Tate and Michael Floyd.
This year, three (George Atkinson, Bennett Jackson and TJ Jones) did it alone.
Let’s talk a look at the results for each player and walk through where they sit with individual workouts and a few more twists and turns until May.
6’1″, 218 pounds
40-yard Dash: 4.48 seconds
Bench Press: 19 reps
Vertical Jump: 38.0″
Broad Jump: 121.0″
3-Cone Drill: 7.07 seconds
20-yard Shuttle: 4.46 seconds
60-yard Shuttle: 11.50 seconds
Analysis: Irish fans probably expected Atkinson’s elite track speed to produce an every better number than 4.48, but Atkinson did a very nice job in Indianapolis. He also talked candidly about the late-season suspension that ended his career watching his teammates play Rutgers.
Andrew Owens of BlueandGold.com caught this telling quote from Atkinson:
“It was during team meal and I was on the phone and Coach [Brian] Kelly walked up to me and told me to get off the phone,” Atkinson said. “For some stupid reason I decided not to get off right away, and it led to the suspension.
“I would’ve liked to have approached the situation towards the end of my career there, especially my junior year, with both carries and the coaching staff [with a] more mature mindset.”
Atkinson also talked about the health of his mother playing a factor in jumping to the NFL now. He’s the type of elite athlete that one team will look at as a special teams factor, and this performance might help his status as a late-round pick.
6’0″ 187 pounds
40-yard Dash: 4.51 seconds
Bench Press: 13 reps
Vertical Jump: 38.0″
Broad Jump: 128.0″
3-Cone Drill: 6.75 seconds
20-yard Shuttle: 4.00 seconds
Analysis: Jackson ran a 4.51 forty, a really impressive number, even though we all knew he ran track at Notre Dame. His 38-inch vertical leap and 128-inch broad jump were also explosive as well, along with his 20-yard shuttle time.
The tape wasn’t always kind to Jackson and his decreased physicality this season had many thinking he was still playing with a bum shoulder. But Jackson did enough to put himself in that mid-to-late round discussion among cornerbacks.
6’0″, 188 pounds
40-yard Dash: 4.48 seconds
Vertical Jump: 33.0″
Broad Jump: 119.0″
3-Cone Drill: 6.82 seconds
20-yard Shuttle: 4.27 seconds
60-yard Shuttle: 11.45 seconds
Analysis: When Jones ran an unofficial 4.40 in his first attempt of the forty, even NFL Network’s Mike Mayock was shocked. While the number rounded up a bit officially, that’s the type of speed Jones needed to display to scouts, who likely were questioning his ability to get behind a defense.
Jones didn’t show elite explosiveness, but running sub-4.5 was a big step towards moving Jones up draft boards.
6’4″, 308 pounds
Bench Press: 29 reps
Vertical Jump: 28.0″
Broad Jump: 106.0″
3-Cone Drill: 7.65 seconds
20-yard Shuttle: 4.59 seconds
Analysis: Perhaps the only thing that hurt Martin in Indianapolis was the performance of some other elite tackles, with Auburn’s Greg Robinson and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan showing elite measurables.
Of course, everybody knew Martin wouldn’t be a true stud in shorts and a t-shirt and his performance at the Senior Bowl did more to help than the combine did to hurt. There’s still likely a team that’s going to take Martin in the last 10 picks of the first round.
6’6″, 270 pounds
Bench Press: 27 reps
Vertical Jump: 32.0″
Broad Jump: 114.0″
3-Cone Drill: 7.57 seconds
20-yard Shuttle: 4.55 seconds
60-yard Shuttle: 12.19 seconds
Analysis: Niklas didn’t run the forty, but did do everything else. He was one of the top performers at tight end and also at the 60 yard shuttle for his position group.
Niklas has a few months to work on getting a time in the 4.6 range before the draft in May. The longer teams get to look at him the better, as his athleticism will be intoxicating for teams thinking they might have found another Rob Gronkowski.
6’2″, 331 pounds
40-yard Dash: 5.42 seconds
Vertical Jump: 25.5″
Broad Jump: 97.0″
3-Cone Drill: 8.29 seconds
Analysis: Nix reached the weight many wanted him to be at, stating that he lost over 20 pounds from the end of the season to the draft. He had limited participation, not bench pressing or doing either shuttle run as he still comes back from meniscus surgery.
Still, Nix was a hit at the combine, and certainly didn’t hurt his chances of being the first defensive tackle off the draft board, even with Aaron Donald running a ridiculous 4.68 at 285 pounds.
6’1″, 254 pounds
40-yard Dash: 4.71 seconds
Bench Press: 26 reps
Vertical Jump: 38.5″
Broad Jump: 122.0″
3-Cone Drill: 7.29 seconds
20-yard Shuttle: 4.31 seconds
Analysis: Shembo’s mostly earning headlines for his acknowledgment of his connection to the Seeberg allegations. But he did a nice job athletically as well, putting up numbers that top to bottom were better than Manti Te’o last year.
Shembo is on the short side, with his 6-foot-1 an inch shorter than he was listed on the UND.com roster. But he’s got some explosiveness as well, with a 38.5-inch vertical leap pretty astounding.
6’5″, 304 pounds
Bench Press: 31 reps
Analysis: Tuitt’s combine was cut short when a small foot fracture turned up on his medical exam. That kept him from showing off the slender physique he brought with him to Indianapolis.
The time table for an injury like Tuitt’s is six to eight weeks, making a Pro Day workout possible, but not necessarily the smartest decision. Still, showing up at 304 was crucial for Tuitt, and the 31 reps on the bench press give you an idea of his impressive strength.
6’3″, 310 pounds
Bench Press: 29 reps
Analysis: Watt came to the combine still recovering from a knee injury suffered late in the season. He didn’t do himself any harm at the combine, measuring in as expected and putting up impressive numbers on the bench press.
(A 5.50 forty time credited to Watt was previously listed on NFL.com’s Combine results page, but no longer exists.)
He’ll have a few months to continue to get healthy and game tape will likely make sure he’s selected in the draft’s middle-to-late rounds.
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