2013 NFL Draft: 3 Best Fits for Each Potential Outgoing Notre Dame Player

Robin LalisseCorrespondent IDecember 19, 2012

2013 NFL Draft: 3 Best Fits for Each Potential Outgoing Notre Dame Player

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    Notre Dame's run to a championship has been led by an incredible senior class that has suffered through a previously combined record of 22-16. 

    The 12-0 season has been helped by amazing catches by Tyler Eifert, clutch plays by secondary receivers John Goodman and Roby Toma, underrated tough running by Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, great line play by Mike Golic Jr. and Braxston Cave, and of course, the phenomenal performances week to week by Heisman runner-up Manti Te'o behind an elite defensive line led by senior Kapron Lewis-Moore.

    Before these players play their final game as Golden Domers, lets take a look at which NFL teams they can help the most in the upcoming draft.

MLB Manti Te'o

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    Draft Projection:

    Top 10

    Kansas City Chiefs:

    The Chiefs do need a quarterback, but there could be veteran options like Michael Vick, Matt Flynn and Alex Smith available. Meanwhile, the defense needs a middle linebacker opposite Derrick Johnson, and who would be better than Manti Te'o?

    If the 3-4 defense remains, Te'o and Johnson would make a great inside duo alongside great pass-rushers at the outside linebacker spots in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, who have combined for 18 sacks this season.

    Oakland Raiders:

    The Rolando McClain experiment has been a complete failure, as he has recorded only 60 tackles and is not the game breaking player he was at Alabama. 

    Te'o would be the defensive leader the Raiders have missed since Howie Long retired.

    Buffalo Bills:

    Mario Williams has recorded 10.5 sacks this season, and Kyle WIlliams and Marcel Dareus appear to have figured out their roles in the 4-3 defense.

    However, Kelvin Sheppard is a good special teams player who has no business being a starting middle linebacker in the NFL, let alone one asked to run sideline to sideline. Te'o's athletic ability, intelligence, and leadership would help the Bills get the most out of their talented defense.

TE Tyler Eifert

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    Draft Projection:

    Late-First, Early Second

    Chicago Bears:

    Jay Cutler needs someone besides Brandon Marshall to throw to, and Eifert could be a great down the seam option who would take safeties away from Marshall's side of the field, opening up one-on-one opportunities for Marshall to make plays.

    Green Bay Packers:

    Jermichael Finley's inconsistencies have slowed down the Green Bay offense the last two seasons, and Aaron Rodgers wants consistency from his receivers. 

    With Randall Cobb sure to get more attention in the middle field out of the slot with his production, and Greg Jennings a free agent after this season, the Packers need someone who can be a go-to-guy who can line up in multiple positions. 

    Eifert's athletic ability reminds some of Rob Gronkowski, and that type of weapon, along with his improved blocking ability could make Green Bay's offense almost unstoppable.

    Atlanta Falcons:

    Tony Gonzalez is a Hall-of-Famer, but he is now 36, and who knows how much longer he plays. 

    Whether or not Gonzalez retires, Eifert could either be a great complementary player initially or his replacement. Remember, Eifert succeeded Kyle Rudolph very well in South Bend, so it wouldn't be anything new for him. 

    *Has option of staying another year

CB Bennett Jackson

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    Draft Projection:

    Second to Third Round

    Philadelphia Eagles:

    The inconsistency of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie shows that the bigger corner regime in Philadelphia hasn't worked out very well. 

    Bennett Jackson has the fluidity and aggressiveness similar to an Asante Samuel, who has played much better than Asomugha or Rodgers-Cromartie as a starting corner in Atlanta after being traded for a seventh-round pick from the Eagles. 

    Jackson played very well against Marqise Lee in the USC game, and has shown no fear in defending the other team's best receiver one-on-one. 

    Seattle Seahawks:

    Likely Pro Bowl selection Richard Sherman was a receiver for a few years at Stanford before moving to corner. 

    Bennett Jackson switched to corner in 2011 after a year at receiver, and recorded four interceptions in the first five games of this season in his first year as a starter. Since then, he has not recorded any because he hasn't been targeted and freshman KeiVarae Russell is the player other teams target. 

    Jackson would be a third corner who would allow the big and physical corners like Sherman and Brandon Browner line up in the slot like Charles Woodson has with the Packers. 

    Atlanta Falcons:

    Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson have been a surprisingly great corner duo without Brent Grimes, who tore his ACL early in the season. 

    The Falcons most likely won't be able to pay three corners at a large salary with Grimes a sought after free agent after this season, so with Robinson turning 31 in the off-season and a great fit in the slot, Jackson could be a great third corner. 

    *One year left of eligibility

C Braxston Cave

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    Draft Projection: 

    Fourth to Sixth round

    New England Patriots:

    The Patriots are always able to make the best out of tough injury situations, as former undrafted free agent Ryan Wendell is the current starting center.

    On Sunday Night, before the Patriots went into their hurry-up offense, there was no push in the running game against the stout San Francisco front seven, and Isaac Sopoaga dominating Wendell inside was a big reason why.

    If Cave performs well against Alabama nose tackle Jesse Williams in the BCS National Championship, Bill Belichick might need to take a look at him. 

    Detroit Lions:

    Dominic Raiola will turn 34 at the end of this season, and the offensive line for the Lions needs to get younger. 

    Cave could back up Raiola for a year, and then replace him. He has been a great run blocker in his stint at Notre Dame, and would be a great future leader for the Lions offensive line. 

    Indianapolis Colts:

    Andrew Luck needs a bruising but intelligent center to be his Jeff Saturday, as Saturday and Peyton Manning were able to make great line calls to protect the quarterback and move the ball down the field. 

    Cave would not be the caliber of player of a Barrett Jones from Alabama, but would not be a disastrous downfall, either. 

G Mike Golic Jr.

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    Draft projection:

    Undrafted

    New Orleans Saints:

    The Saints have been great at developing interior players, as Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs are arguably the best guard duo in the league, and Carl Nicks got a huge contract with the Buccaneers last offseason. 

    Golic Jr.'s dad, Mike Golic, and uncle, Bob, played defensive line in the NFL, and they can be great resources for how to succeed in the league. His father was a tenth-round selection, so Golic being undrafted won't be a huge issue.

    Pittsburgh Steelers:

    The Steelers have always been known for great offensive line play, that is until the last few years. 

    With young players like David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams and Maurkice Pouncey developing on the offensive line, Golic can be a backup who has the ability to start at a moment's notice.

    San Francisco 49ers:

    The 49ers have developed one of the league's best offensive lines under Jim Harbaugh, and his tough approach that includes running the football allows San Francisco to be an attractive spot for bruising offensive linemen like Golic Jr. 

RB Theo Riddick

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    Draft Projection:

    Fourth to Sixth round

    Washington Redskins:

    The Redskins are one of the worst third-down teams in the league, and though they are missing Robert Griffin III's safety valve in Fred Davis, he is missing a third-down running back who can catch the ball. 

    Riddick can catch the ball out of the backfield, has played slot receiver well, is a great cutback runner for Mike Shanahan's system, and breaks a lot of tackles for a player who weighs 200 pounds. He would fill two needs, as he would be a great complement to the bruising Alfred Morris.

    Denver Broncos:

    Riddick could either be the eventual replacement for Brandon Stokley, or be a third-down running back that Peyton Manning can use in the Broncos' one-cut zone blocking scheme. 

    Carolina Panthers:

    With DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart both having big contracts, there is no guarantee that both will remain on the roster next season.

    Plus, neither of them is the pass receiver that Riddick is, so a big back like Stewart could be complemented extremely well by a quick-twitch player like Riddick.

RB Cierre Wood

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    Draft Projection:

    Fifth to Seventh round

    Washington Redskins:

    While Wood and Alfred Morris have similar size, Wood is more explosive in terms of his speed, and has played in a zone-blocking scheme similar to what the Redskins run.

    Buffalo Bills:

    Fred Jackson is going to turn 32 in February, and injuries are showing that his body is starting to break down. Wood can be a serviceable backup to C.J. Spiller if Jackson continues to have injury issues.

    Green Bay Packers:

    The Packers have been so inconsistent at running back that Ryan Grant has been brought back. Wood is a limited player in terms of catching the ball, but his ability to get big plays would make Aaron Rodgers' play-action passes that more dangerous.

    *Could return for another year

DE Kapron Lewis-Moore

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    Draft Projection:

    Fifth to Seventh round

    Seattle Seahawks:

    Seattle's multiple-front defense would be perfect for a player of Lewis-Moore's talents, as his improved pass-rushing abilities at defensive tackle, combined with how well he can play the 5-technique at defensive end. 

    Cincinnati Bengals:

    Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has a similar system to Seattle's, so Lewis-Moore can play the same role there. Geno Atkins has become the best interior pass-rusher in the league outside of J.J. Watt.

    Baltimore Ravens:

    Lewis-Moore could play as a 3-4 end in the Ravens defense alongside Terrance Cody and Haloti Ngata. 

WR Robby Toma

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    Draft Projection:

    Undrafted

    New England Patriots: 

    Robby Toma has studied slot studs like Wes Welker and Davone Bess (via ESPN.com), so he could fit in well with the Patriots. 

    Denver Broncos:

    The Broncos already have a similar player in Brandon Stokley who could teach Toma how to succeed in the NFL, and play in a spread pass offense that Toma should already be familiar with.

    Indianapolis Colts:

    The Colts have had slot receivers like Brandon Stokley, Austin Collie, Blair White, and now T.Y. Hilton come in and succeed, so why can't Toma in that system? 

WR John Goodman

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    Draft Projection:

    Undrafted

    Washington Redskins:

    As a quarterback in high school with a strong arm, Goodman would be an intriguing gadget play option. 

    He has a similar build to Ed McCaffrey, who had success with Mike Shanahan in Denver, and can at least contribute as a special-teams gunner immediately.

    Detroit Lions:

    The Lions need to add depth at receiver, and taking a look at a big, talented receiver wouldn't hurt.

    New England Patriots:

    Goodman has a lot of versatility, and Bill Belichick knows how to use it best.

S Jamoris Slaughter

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    Draft Projection:

    Undrafted

    New England Patriots:

    The Patriots used former Notre Dame safety Sergio Brown last season, so they definitely could take a look at Slaughter in the 2013 offseason.

    Pittsburgh Steelers:

    With Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark both having injury issues, the Steelers can always use backup safeties.

    Denver Broncos:

    The Broncos already have former Golden Domer David Bruton at safety, and have the willingness to bring in a lot of defensive backs.

    *Could get sixth year, according to ndmscobserver.com.