The 2017 NFL Combine officially began yesterday (February 28th) in Indianapolis. The event lasts seven days and will conclude with the final workouts on Monday, March 6th (see the full schedule here). Players in attendance can expect to go through medical, psychological, and physical examinations during this time. All around them, NFL scouts will be working tirelessly, as they try to evaluate all of the players in attendance.
Seven Notre Dame players have hopes of making an NFL roster next season: DeShone Kizer, Jarron Jones, Isaac Rochell, Cole Luke, James Onwualu, Tarean Folston, and Scott Daly. Out of that group, only DeShone Kizer, Jarron Jones, and Isaac Rochell were invited to participate in this year’s combine. It’s no surprise that, out of those three, Kizer has been talked about the most in the weeks leading up to the NFL Combine. He plays what is by far the most important position in the sport. Bad teams usually need a new quarterback. Bad teams have high draft picks. Bad teams then use said draft picks to pick a promising quarterback. At least, that’s how it usually goes. Deshone Kizer is regarded by many as one of the three best quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Most analysts have him going in the middle of the first round, either the 12th or 13th overall pick. Peter Schrager is probably the highest on Kizer, predicting him to be selected by San Francisco with the 2nd overall pick. On the other hand, there are analysts that believe Kizer will not hear his name called until the second round. These predictions will no doubt fluctuate in the coming weeks as we consider the combine results, NFL free agency news, and potential trades prior to the draft.
Scouts will fall in love with Jarron Jones’ physical attributes, but other factors may prevent him from hearing his name called during the first two days of the draft. Jones has a history of injuries that may worry NFL teams. On top of that, there are questions about his work ethic and desire to play football. At Notre Dame he showed flashes of first-round talent, but he was wildly inconsistent. CBS Sports has him ranked as the 14th best defensive tackle in the draft and projects him to go in the late fourth round or early fifth round. Out of the three Notre Dame players attending the combine, Jones has the most to gain. An outstanding performance this weekend could potentially elevate him to a late third round pick.
At Notre Dame, Isaac Rochell was primarily an interior defensive lineman. To make it in the NFL, he will have to slide out and play defensive end. As you might guess, speed and agility are the main questions that scouts have when evaluating Rochell. CBS Sports has him ranked as the 25th best defensive end in the draft and projected to go late in the seventh round of the draft. However, it’s likely he could go undrafted. Whether or not he is drafted is contingent upon his performance at the combine this weekend. If he performs better than expected at the speed and agility drills, he will hear his name called on the final day of the NFL Draft.
As for the remaining four players, Cole Luke has the best chance to hear his name called on the final day of the draft. James Onwualu, Tarean Folston, and Scott Daly will most likely have to earn a roster spot during the spring camps that take place after the draft.