The 2015 NFL Combine will not go down as one of the memorable weekends for Notre Dame players. Only three Irish players were invited with a couple of them not doing a whole lot during their time in Indianapolis.
All heights and weights are per Combine measurements & scouting reports provided by NFL.com.
DaVaris Daniels, WR
(Note: Analysis all from 2013 tape) Good height with a frame that should be able to add muscle. Catching the ball comes easy for him. Has very strong hands. Gets body squared to the throw and snatches away from his body. Willing to go over the middle and make contested catch in traffic. Stems and adjusts routes from the slot. Works back to the ball. Shows adequate acceleration from his release and can open a brief window up top. Able to reach back and snare throws behind him without breaking stride. Gets upfield after the catch rather than dancing. Puts his head down and charges forward to squeeze maximum yardage from catch.
(Note: Analysis all from 2013 tape) Suspended from team for academic reasons in January 2014 before being reinstated in summer. Dismissed from team for "academic dishonesty" and missed all of 2014. Average play speed and loses initial separation on go routes. Failed to track and adjust to wayward downfield throws effectively. Doesn't sink hips into breaks and accelerate out. Routes are rounded lacking crispness and allowing defender to wander in. Doesn't play to his size and can get muscled around inside his routes. Inconsistent to high-point catches allowing ball into defender's reach.
Daniels suspension and then dismissal over academic dishonesty will need to be looked into, but the tape shows a receiver who is still learning to run better routes and maximize his size. Daniels lacks plus athleticism or speed and missing an entire year of football puts him behind in his wide receiver studies. His production and size could get him a look but he will likely need time to sharpen his skills as a receiver before he is ready to contribute.
The former Irish wideout is coming off a season long suspension and was back in the spotlight during the Combine. Daniels checked in right around the same size as his last listed measurements by Notre Dame. He took part in the drills and didn't appear to stand out from the pack either way. What is going to hurt Daniels are both of his 40 yard dash times.
Former Notre Dame WR DaVaris Daniels, son of former Redskins DL Phillip Daniels, posted 40 times of 4.62 and 4.65. pic.twitter.com/JhwqOEbirI— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) February 21, 2015
Those times are going to hurt Daniels' stock in a big way. He benched 13 reps which was solid while his 37 inch vertical was above average. I'm sure Daniels was looking to do better and now he'll have to perform at a high level during his Pro Day.
Speaking of his Pro Day...
DaVaris Daniels said he will be allowed to take part in #NotreDame's Pro Day.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) February 19, 2015
There were some questions about whether Daniels would be invited back and/or want to return to Notre Dame for his Pro Day and it looks like he will do just that.
Ben Koyack, TE
Possesses desired size and athleticism for the position. Can threaten the seam, though not asked to do so very often. Sinks hips and plays with twitch into and out of breaks. Large, strong hands. Hands-catcher with plus concentration in a crowd. Equally comfortable in-line or from the slot. Excels as run blocker with unique understanding of leverage and hand placement. Works to secure edge. Mirrors and stays engaged when walling off and hustles to get his man turned when responsible for play-side block. Has potential to be left on an island in pass protection. Competes hard.
Must work harder to get open and help his quarterback when the play breaks down. Doesn't strike much of a blow when asked to come across formation and seal off defensive end. Not elusive after the catch. Could use a little more girth if used as "Y" tight end. Only one season as full-time starter. Less game experience and targets than any of the top tight ends in this draft. Mechanical in his routes. Still gaining a feel for how to work in space. Just two catches for more than 25 yards in his career.
Underutilized in the passing game while at Notre Dame. Strong understanding and execution as a run blocker with the physical traits to be a tough matchup in the passing game. Still raw as a receiver and will need more individual work with a position coach on the next level. College production belies his pro potential.
Koyack got measured and ran through some drills inside Lucas Oil Stadium but will save the rest of his testing for his Pro Day. Just like Daniels, the former Irish tight end was listed right around the same height and height by the NFL as by Notre Dame.
Sitting on the couch with my 3yr old daughter who is legitimately excited watching Ben Koyack run through drills at NFL combine #TE-U— Scott Booker (@CoachSBooker) February 20, 2015
The consensus around the league seems to be that with a good workout Koyack could find himself hovering around the Top 5 tight ends in the Draft which could lead to a pick as high as the 3rd round. If he's able to break a 4.8 time in his 40 yard dash that would place Koyack inside the best five performers at his position during the Combine.
Kyle Brindza, PK
Punted, kicked field goals and handled kickoffs for Notre Dame. Has requisite power in his leg by NFL standards. Averaged 63.4 yards per kickoff with a 64.2 percent touchback mark.
Passive on kick coverage. Unlikely to be a reliable last line of defense against stray returns. Made just 58.3 percent of his kicks in 2014. Struggled to misses late in games. Five of his 10 misses came in the fourth quarter or in overtime.
While Brindza was hurt by poor snaps on a couple of his misses, he simply had a down year for accuracy. His ability to hit kickoffs with some force as well as be a serviceable emergency punter could help his cause.
As a specialist there wasn't much for Brindza to do but he did head to Indianapolis attempting to break the record for most bench reps by a kicker. He came up 11 reps short but will probably earn additional respect for being the only kicker to give it a shot.
Notre Dame K Kyle Brindza put up 14 reps of 225 lbs at 6'1 236 lbs with 33 1/4" arms. pic.twitter.com/tGbckCz4PD— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) February 20, 2015
Brindza will be an interesting prospect to watch, especially coming off a disappointing senior season. He's a versatile special teams contributor with a big leg but will likely have to prove he's a master of something to get picked in the Draft or make a roster next fall.
News & Notes
Every year a couple of players absolutely blow the doors off their testing. One of those stars this year was West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White who was measured at 6-3 and 215 pounds while posting a blazing 4.35 time in the 40 yard dash. For good measure, White threw up 23 reps on the bench reps.
Mariota vs. Winston running!
The defensive backs will finish their testing today and bring the Combine to a close. As of today the quickest 40 time goes to University of Alabama-Birmingham's J.J. Nelson at 4.28. Incidentally, with the UAB folding Nelson might be the last Blazer ever drafted by the NFL.
The top bench press goes to Miami Hurricane offensive lineman Ereck Flowers with 37 reps.
Georgia receiver Chris Conley jumped so high he tied a Combine record.
Chris Conley (UGA) had a 45" vertical today, which ties an NFL Combine record pic.twitter.com/neqzlKWBiC— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) February 21, 2015
One quarterback who might have improved his stock? Perhaps UCLA's Brett Hundley after running a 4.63 in the 40 and a 3.98 time in the 20-yard shuttle--the latter the best for a quarterback since 2006 and the third best time for all players through Sunday's testing.
Notre Dame was set to open spring practice next week but has pushed back the start date to March 18th. The final practice of spring will be held a month later on April 18th with still no decision on whether the Irish will hold a Blue Gold game and where it will be as the construction of the Crossroads project denies the use of Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame's Pro Day will be held on March 31st.