Notre Dame Football: 2016 NFL Draft Outlook
The 2016 NFL Draft is a year away, with the 2015 NFL Draft yet to take place this week.
A down year has seen the progression of Notre Dame slip, and in the process- so has the draft stock of a few former Irish players.
This weekend could see the likes of Davaris Daniels, Ben Koyack and Kyle Brindza stamp their legacy's into footballs elite club.
5th year transfer Cody Riggs should also receive some interest from NFL scouts.
Not a stellar draft year for Notre Dame, as the three players could be selected between the 3rd and 7th rounds based on mock draft projectiions.
2016 will be a complete flip, as up to 11 seniors or 5th year players could get selected or atleast find themselves on a roster via free agency.
A few juniors could forgo a final year and join their seniors cohorts in the NFL.
Seniors and 5th year players:
Sheldon Day: Day will be a 1st or 2nd round selection, especially if he has a decent year in 2015. The Irish captain often commands offenses to employ double duty for the nose player, and his quickness will elevate his prospect among other defensive line players. Day had a modest 40 tackles in 2014, but a revamped and deep defense for the Irish this season could propell Day as one of the nation's premier pass rushers.
Ronnie Stanley: Stanley will be a 1st round pick providing he remains healthy this season. e could be a top 10 pick and perhaps the first overall offensive line player selected. Stanley opted to return in 2015 after a brief flirtation with an early departure from South Bend in 2014, where he projected as a first round selection.
Mathias Farley: The one-time soccer football convert within the last few years could find himself as a role player that many coaches can utilize on special teams as well as within a defensive backfield. Farley spent most of his time in South Bend just making plays, and showing up when many had cast him aside. Utility player best describes Farley and a late round projection is very likely.
Everett Golson: Many have compared Golson with Russell Wilson. His final year in college football could accomplish a couple of things: Golson has been rumored as a possible transfer to another school and should he remain in South Bend, he could diminish a blot on his resume of a player with an unsettled past that stood by his words to repair his image and his miscues. He could also elevate his status as a draft prospect by erasing his pourous play in 2014. Alot to ask on the field, but his off-field issues will be of equal comparison come draft day and in the weeks leading into it. Completing these two items and Golson could cement a top 5 quarterback ranking.
Jarrett Grace: Injuries aside, Grace could have been a top linebacking prospect. His healing process and return to the field will place Grace in an undesireable spot for a potential NFL prospect: coming back from a devastating injury and performing above expectations. If there is any player in college football that could accomplish this, it's Grace. If he performs well and his injury is not an obstacle, Grace will get drafted or atleast hit a roster via free agency.
Jarron Jones: Jones will get drafted within the first 7 rounds. His play in 2015 will determine how high he projects but other factors will play into his season and how scouts evaluate him. Playing alongside Day and others, the Irish defense should progress well beyond it;s 2014 accomplishments- which weren't many. Youth and injuries played a part, and Jones fell into the latter. A fully healed Jones come summer will be a dynamic pass rusher and will command attention by offenses.
Nick Martin: Tough shoes to fill as an offensive prosepct alone, but add in that your older sibling went to America's Team in the first round last year and eventually hit a Pro Bowl roster- expectations may unjustly find themselves attached to you. Martin could see himself as an early draftee, but he won't spawn near the excitement of Zach.
Romeo Okwara: Romeo will be a very perplexing player to watch this season. His size won't allow him to become an NFL lineman, but his abilities will more than likely place him in a linebacking spot. His length will be of notice for scouts. Okwara will play from an edge rush spot this year, and unless his numbers out rank his scout projections, he will find himself drafting late- and a sure draft selection is not out of reach.
CJ Prosise: Prosise stands to hype his draft status more than any other player. This season he joins the backfield as a first year back, but will see the field in other ways too, giving his speed and size. Prosise has sparked coaches to already place him as a player that will see elevated playing time alongside Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston this season. He has already made it known in spring that playing time will be divided between the 3, and as was the case with former player Theo Riddick- Prosise may draft as a slot type receiver or return specialist. Getting drafted may not be realistic, but playing in the NFL is.
Joe Schmidt: The one-time walk-on, Schmidt will come off injury as well in 2015. And much like Grace, Schmidt is another player that will gain plenty simply be repeating his performances from previous years. His small frame compared to most linebackers won't garner attention, but if there was ever a player coming into a draft that embodies heart and passion- it's Schmidt. His tackling finesse and leadership will be a hot commodity come draft week. And if gets an invite to the annual NFL combine, Schmidt will be a player that will be topic de jure'.
Elijah Shumate: The heralded prospect a few years back has all the goods. He simply needs to put it all together much like his shining moment to end the Michigan game last year. Shumate has been hyped all spring and has gained vast knowledge of his duties and others alongside him this past spring. He has that lone Michigan interception ability with each snap, he just needs to harness it this season to have a chance at getting drafted.
Jaylon Smith: Simply put: IF Jaylon comes out as a junior- he will get drafted and will go within the first 5 rounds or higher. His love for Notre Dame can't be understated and that could be the only thing keeping him in South Bend for one more season. His talent has been used in a variety of ways, but the linebacker simply makes plays and strikes fear no matter where he's fitted. A great season will see Smith command high praise from NFL scouts and pundits, which has accompanied the elite player since his first season.
Will Fuller: If Fuller plays like he did in 2014- he's playing on Sundays in 2016. He pretty much will be anyways- but he could be there in 2016 as a junior. Receivers are hot items these days in the NFL and Fuller is elite and well in the top 10 in all of college football. No injuries in 2015 will be key, and big numbers could push Fuller to a tough decision at 2015's completion.
Tarean Folston: The only thing that could impede an early departure for Folston is splitting time with two other elite players. Folston has seperated himself from others, but this season will be very crucial where his NFL status is concerned for not just next year, but 2017. It's not out of the question to see Folston put up 1000 yards and double digit touchdowns- which could be needed to pull off any thought of an early out. But short of that- 2017 looks better for Folston.