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Checking the Fit, Part 2: ND's Newest NFL Representatives

With the NFL draft finally behind us and the professional destinations clear for all the Irish who will make the jump to the next level, let's take a look at how our intrepid rookies will fit in with their new employers.

Didn't waste any time switching to Under Armour.
Didn't waste any time switching to Under Armour.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

We'll browse through the group by draft order, because, well, why not? Part 1 focused on the guys who went in the top half of the draft, while Part 2 focuses on those who went in the bottom half. Part 3, coming soon, will focus on the undrafted free agents.

Prince Shembo, Falcons, #139 overall

The Falcons came into the draft committed to bolstering their defense, as evidenced by the fact that seven of their nine picks are defensive players. While Shembo showed glimpses of sneaky athleticism - he tied for the fourth-best vertical among all linebackers at the combine with 38.5", and ran a very respectable 4.68 40 at his pro day - it's likely his toughness and attitude that enticed Atlanta. The Falcons have established outside linebackers/defensive ends Jonathan Massaquoi, Osi Umenyiora, and Kroy Biermann already. However, Mike Smith has said he likes Shembo's potential as a pass rusher, Umenyiora will turn 33 this season, and Biermann will have an uncertain workload threshold as he's returning from a season-ending Achilles injury early in 2013 - opportunities may indeed present themselves to Shembo in 2014. Somewhat surprisingly, Shembo has played some inside linebacker during OTA's; perhaps he'll impress enough with that athleticism and toughness to get on the field earlier than expected.

Nice forward lean.

Jersey Buy Rating: If you want one you might have to have it custom-made, but it's probably better to wait and see if Mike Smith feels the same way next year.

Bennett Jackson, Giants, #187 overall

The Giants have had something of a revolving door in the secondary the last few years, due mostly to injury but occasionally to ineffectiveness. Enter Jackson, who is a decent developmental pick and could provide long-term insurance at the cornerback position. He won't be ready to contribute in more than spot duty on defense right away, but he can reprise the special teams role that he excelled in for Notre Dame while he learns the nuances of the cornerback position. Jackson ran a 4.40 40 at Notre Dame's pro day and a position-best 4.00 20-yard shuttle at the NFL combine; marry that athleticism to his size, and it's clear why the Giants would be willing to give him a chance to develop. He's a smart, high-character kid with great physical tools - if he can put it all together, he could develop into an NFL starter. For now, though, he needs to learn.

Jersey Buy Rating: Similar to Shembo, I have a feeling Jackson will be with the Giants for a while but give it some time.

Bennett said he liked the Giants when he was a kid and "always hated the Jets." Giants fans love him already.

TJ Jones, Lions, #189 overall

One thing is certain - it's hard to imagine a better situation for Jones to come into than the one the Lions have created on the offensive side of the ball, assuming he can work his way onto the field. With Stafford under center, Reggie Bush and Joique Bell in the backfield, Calvin Johnson wide to one side and Golden Tate to the other, and Joseph Fauria and Eric Ebron at tight end, the slot receiver should get plenty of one-on-one coverage. His 4.48 40 at the combine opened a lot of eyes; I for one thought it guaranteed him no worse than being selected in the fourth or fifth rounds, given the hands, toughness, and leadership he had displayed at Notre Dame. Apparently concerns about physicality were enough to drop him to the seventh; in fairness, TJ will probably need to bulk up a little to become a regular contributor outside of special teams (sense a theme?) at the next level. Still, he shows excellent potential and could develop into a legitimate starter; with his intelligence, route-running, and soft hands, he could develop into a Wes Welker-type. Who, by the way, went undrafted. With veteran Nate Burleson departed and the oft-injured Ryan Broyles his most significant competition for reps in the slot, TJ has a real chance to make a splash this year.

Jersey Buy Rating: Go ahead and get it, although you might have to get a new one in a few years. Jones should be able to stick in the league, but I could see him moving on after his rookie contract is up.

"Please double Johnson EVERY TIME..."