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OFD Mailbag: Perfect 4.0

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We answer reader questions, and, as a bonus, move some bad news further down the page!

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the OFD Mailbag, where we will never ever use the breaking news banner. I know I'm not the only one that sees that thing in their nightmares. As always, questions are from real readers, as far as I know. The OFD Mailbag gmail account did get its first spam email though, so the robots may, in fact, be taking over. Without further ado, let's jump into the mailbag:

The Jump to Comparisons Mat

I'm seeing Malik Zaire as the second coming of Tony Rice. Different offense, but the similarities are striking. Physical tools, personality, leadership (per reports), determination are all comparable. I believe the quality of the front line players are on a par with the Rice teams (DL maybe lacking; but OL and receivers better). What's your opinion, can the Malik era match or approach Rice's?

-Carl S., Austin, TX

You know, when I first read this email I thought, "No way, this is clearly just a 'running quarterback at Notre Dame' immediate comparison to Tony Rice." Then I went and I watched some tape:

(May I suggest also a very unscientific mashup of the two)

So, um, yeah... I was wrong. They are surprisingly similar QBs -- but I think there are two differences between the QBs themselves. I think Tony Rice had better speed (while not a total burner), and I think Malik Zaire is a better passer than Rice (while not super-accurate). I think if you dropped Zaire into Rice's shoes with that 1988 team, they wouldn't have missed a beat. The thing is, I don't think it would work the other way -- this year, Zaire is likely going to have to win a few shootouts thanks to the defense and his superior arm may let him do some things that Rice couldn't.

Obviously we've got a VERY limited sample size for Zaire, so saying he's for sure better, worse, or otherwise than Rice would be silly. But to answer your question specifically, I think the Zaire era at Notre Dame certainly can reach what Tony Rice was able to do. If he somehow lifts this team to a national title, with what they have on defense, I would consider that to be greater than what Rice was tasked with in 1988. It remains to be seen if week in, week out, Malik can handle the job of leading the team. If he can mimic Rice in that department, we're in for a hell of a ride this year.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Night

Ok, I'm done with the silly mailbag questions(for now) and have a real poser for you.

Rank the order you think any ND players will go in the NFL draft. I want to see two separate lists, one that is just seniors and another that includes any possible juniors you think will make the jump.

-clearwall

One of the perks of having someone like E around is that at this point, he has pretty much already written every article that you could ever hope to read. I won't totally rehash the whole lists here as asked (I don't negotiate with Commenterrorists), but I will let you know where I disagree with Eric:

  • Isaac Rochell will enter the draft early, and get drafted in the middle rounds (4-5). Eric did mention the possibility of Rochell entering the draft, and I'm leaning towards it happening with a solid performance this year.
  • Matthias Farley will NOT go undrafted, but will get picked up in the late rounds (6-7) by a Patriots-type team that values versatile secondary players.
  • Nick Martin will go later than the 5th round, and potentially go undrafted. Unless he has a breakout year this year, I can't see an NFL team drafting him as I don't know if he can play guard at the next level.
  • Tarean Folston - Just stating agreement here with E, I think he's gone after this year. As a RB, if you get a grade to get drafted early, you should take it.
  • I think one of Cole Luke and KeiVarae Russell leaves early, and gets drafted in the early second, maybe first round. The other stays, if nothing else, to make me not  totally petrified of our defense next season.
  • Jaylon Smith - I think he stays in school, unless he gets a legitimate top 10 grade (which isn't out of the question). It will be interesting to see if there's any hint of unfinished business with Jaylon this year that makes him come back.
  • Ronnie Stanley - The Bears tank 2015, get the #2 overall pick and select Ronnie Stanley. Pburns is happy.

Taking Things Far Too Seriously

ND fans like to say Jaylon Smith could line up at 10 different positions on defense (everywhere but nose tackle) and be great. How many positions could Jaylon line up at on offense and be great?

-burger23, via the comments

Here's as comprehensive of a list as I can come up with right at this moment:

  • The Obvious Ones
    • Running Back
    • Flex/Move Tight End
    • X Wide Receiver
    • Z Wide Receiver
    • RB/WR Hybrid
    • Wildcat QB
  • The Stretches
    • Fullback
    • In-Line Tight End
    • H-Back
    • Option/Run Spread QB
    • Option Slot Back
  • The "He'd try really hard and probably do okay"s
    • Offensive Line
    • Air Raid QB
    • Mike Leach RB
  • The "If you consider it an offensive position, it may be the only one Jaylon can't play"
    • Long Snapper
That's 14 positions out of 11 that Jaylon Smith could play well on offense. He's pretty good at football.

In all seriousness, I think RB would be the only legitimate spot that we could play Jaylon Smith. With the news we got yesterday, that thought will probably stay in my head FAR longer than it should.

Thanks for tuning in to another edition of the OFD Mailbag. Until next time, keep your grades up, your joints healthy, and your breaking news vaccine up-to-date.

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The season is right around the corner! With fall camp coming up, be sure to submit any and all camp related questions to @OFDMailbag on Twitter, ofdmailbag@gmail.com, or in the comments below! Who's bunking with who? What's actually in "Bug Juice"? Who has the crush on the counselor from cabin 3? We've got your answers coming up in next week's edition of the OFD mailbag!!!