For most college football fans, the time between the end of spring practice and the start of fall camp is generally a slow time of year. It turns out that there is an event (starting tonight) that may just keep you interested one more week. It is a little party in NYC referred to as the NFL Draft.
While many fans don't pay much attention to the league outside of fantasy football (myself included), it is a big deal to many sports fans across the country. Growing up in the rust belt and then living in a NFL-crazy town (Philly) for a few years, I know this first hand. Most of my friends' fall weekends revolve around the game on Sunday.
I don't judge. I might not understand, but I don't judge.
Since the draft is here, I thought it would be fun to project when the former Notre Dame players in this year's draft might get that phone call they will never forget.
In case you are curious, you can check out NFL Mock Draft gurus WalterFootball.com, where they have a database of 533 mock drafts. Talk about free time. Also, NFLDraftScout.com has some great information on future NFL players, including results from the NFL Combine and college pro days.
On to the players after the jump.
Note: Numbers listed are from the NFL combine
Just in case you haven't heard, he was pretty good in college. Our own CW covered his projections on likely landing spots for Mr. Floyd, so I will keep my input brief. He is a definite Top 20 pick and could sneak into the Top 10, which would make him the first Irish player since Bryant Young in 1994. And yes--that hurt to type.
Hayseed benefited from a breakout year in 2010. So much so that opposing QBs didn't want to throw anywhere in his zip code last fall. He has also benefited from having Mike Mayock watch him play a dozen plus games over the past few seasons. It never hurts when the best talent evaluator in the country is in your corner.
Smith has been steadily moving up draft boards since last fall and is now projected to be a fringe first round pick. He definitely helped his case with strong showings at the combine and ND's Pro Day last month. He has also benefited from a relatively weak safety class in this year's draft. Most have him going at the end of the 1st to one of three teams: Green Bay, New England, or Baltimore.
Blanton is another player that can thank Mayock for glowing reviews. He didn't wow anyone at the Combine, but showed much better at the ND Pro Day (improving his 40 time to the 4.53 neighborhood). Initially, scouts weren't sure what to make of him at the next level-would he be a corner or more of a safety/nickel specialist? After his workouts it appears that teams are looking at him for the latter and is currently projected to fall somewhere between the 3rd and 5th rounds.
Gray didn't exactly do himself any favors at the ND Pro Day with his performance, though he was working out with a groin injury. He may be more of a system corner at the next level, as he is probably better in zone coverage than man. He is a solid tackler which will likely get him at least an invite to a NFL camp in the summer. Right now, he is projected as a late round pick at best, but likely will be an undrafted free agent.
Fleming made a big improvement with his Pro Day workout, improving his forty time by two-tenths of a second by running a 4.57 and then a 4.52. There were some questions from teams about where he projects at the next level , but he could excel in either a 4-3 or 3-4 front playing either outside or middle linebacker positions. Before his workout earlier this month, he was a fringe late round pick, but he moved himself up on draft boards, now projected to be a 5th to 7th rounds.
Gray played himself into the draft conversation with his on-field performance in 2011. He has forty times listed anywhere from 4.47 to 4.68 (for what its worth). Had he stayed healthy through 2011, he would have likely been a 3rd or 4th round pick. As it stands now, he appears to likely be going late in the draft but could still sneak into the middle rounds.
Robinson also showed well at the ND Pro Day after not earning an invite to the Combine by putting up 31 reps at the 225 lb bench press. As a four year starter, I think he is criminally under-rated by NFL scouts. He isn't projected to be drafted this weekend, but should get an invite to somebody's camp this summer. The key for Trevor is choosing the right camp where he can try to earn a spot on a practice squad and work his way up to the active roster.
Dever's main selling point to pro teams is his potential ability to play three or four positions in an emergency. I don't see him getting any reps at LT any time soon, but could easily move inside from his college position of RT to either guard spot. He has an outside shot of being drafted late, but likely will be an undrafted free agent and get a camp invite over the summer.
Ruffer's stock was maximized after the 2010 season when he was a finalist for the Lou Groza award. He might be a bit limited when it comes to leg strength relative to NFL kickers. His accuracy over the last two seasons may help him get an invite to camp, but it is unlikely that he is drafted this weekend.