The 12th of 14 storylines as we approach the 2014 football season...
While Notre Dame prepares for the 2014 season it is difficult to hide the fact that the team should be loaded for the 2015 season. We've talked about this a handful of times on the site this off-season. If all goes to plan--and it probably won't--the Irish should return a boat load of starters after this fall.
We do know starters/potential starters Christian Lombard, Cody Riggs, Austin Collinsworth, Cam McDaniel, Ben Koyack, Ishaq Williams, and Kyle Brindza will not be back. They are all out of eligibility. That's a nice little group of players but not a group that is going to light the NFL Draft on fire with the exception of Ben Koyack who should be among the top tight ends in the class.
Seeing as though Brian Kelly will likely ask every two-deep senior back if they are still eligible that leaves us to ponder the rest of the roster and see if there will be any further personnel losses.
Jr. Keivarae Russell, CB
There will be a lot of attention paid to Russell this year after he finished strong in 2013 and looks to be an emotional and vocal leader for the Irish this season. In fact, he's probably going to be a captain. Russell appears to be somewhere near the Top 10 of eligible 2015 corners which given the importance of the position could easily put him inside the 3rd round of the Draft.
However, check out the Notre Dame draft picks at corner in modern times:
- 2014, Bennett Jackson, 187th overall, Giants
- 2012, Robert Blanton, 139th overall, Vikings
- 2007, Mike Richardson, 202nd overall, Patriots
- 2004, Vontez Duff, 170th overall, Texans
- 2003, Shane Walton, 170th overall, Rams
- 1998, Allen Rossum, 85th overall, Eagles
- 1996, Shawn Wooden, 189th overall, Dolphins
- 1995, Bobby Taylor, 50th overall, Giants
- 1994, Willie Clark, 82nd overall, Chargers
- 1993, Tom Carter, 17th overall, Redskins
- 1992, Rod Smith, 35th overall, Patriots
- 1991, Todd Lyght, 5th overall, Rams
It's been a barren wasteland since Lou Holtz left town. That's one corner drafted in the 3rd round and zero in the top two rounds for 20 years! Perhaps the history won't affect Russell's stock but even with a very strong 2014 season the past suggests he'll still be in a fight to be a top 100 pick. Now, the modern game needs corners more than ever so that helps but Russell is also a little short and probably isn't going to tear the roof off the Combine with a 4.35 run in the 40-yard dash.
RS Jr. Everett Golson, QB
Could Golson leave if he has a big season?
We've had Miesle working the reverse jinx for a number of months now. We're in good position.
RS Jr. DaVaris Daniels, WR
Daniels looks to have a stock very similar to Russell which makes him a danger to leave early. Most experts have Daniels firmly behind the likes of Amari Cooper, Stefon Diggs, Jaelen Strong, DeVante Parker, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Nelson Agholor with the Irish product floating around the teens at his position. Like corner though, there's plenty of room for a receiver to be picked in the 3rd round even if he's not among the best at his position. The scuttlebutt seems to be that it will be a surprise if Daniels returns to Notre Dame but he still needs to produce at a high level this season to make that a reality.
RS Jr. Nick Martin, OL
I'm comfortable saying that Martin is going to be one of the top 5 best available centers after the 2014 season. I'm also sure that there's very little he can do in order to improve his stock above anything higher than the 5th round. Martin has been good, but he hasn't been that good to warrant a top 100 pick. Just like his brother, he's likely coming back as a 5th-year to finish out his college career.
RS So. Ronnie Stanley, OL
Stanley isn't on too many NFL radars right now but that should change rather quickly once the season starts. He's had an impressive career so far and had one of the best redshirt freshman seasons for an offensive lineman at Notre Dame in some time. This year he looks to be moving over to the more glamorous left tackle which should help his stock considerably. The 2015 crop at his position looks very top heavy (Cameron Erving, Andrus Peat, Cedric Ogbuehi, and La'el Collins all look like Top 15 picks) but it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see Stanley move up into the next tier and go late in the 2nd or early 3rd round. Nevertheless, I'd count on him coming back but you never know.
Jr. Sheldon Day, DT
The defensive scheme switch is sure to benefit Day as he'll be able to showcase his ridiculous first step and play a lot more aggressive. Early scouting has Day as a mid-round pick at best but that's sure to change. He doesn't have perfect size and needs to put together a full season without injury so there's still plenty to prove. Sometimes I think Day is the most likely to leave early but after writing this I've convinced myself he'll probably stay. Additionally, it's my read that there still needs to be some maturing and leadership cultivated so a senior year could do him a lot of good.