Notre Dame Pro Day: Players in Dire Need of a Strong Performance
Pro day has arrived for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish players and it is somewhat of a big deal for these kids. Scouts, coaches, NFL general managers and the entire football world are watching as many of the former Irish players are trying to make a positive impact on their NFL draft stock.
It is an absolute madhouse and there are plenty of guys who could use a strong performance today to boost their ranking when it comes to NFL draft boards.
You wish everybody the best, but here are a few players who need to be absolutely flawless in today's workouts.
Manti Te'o, LB
I think it goes without saying that Te'o is the most talked about player that will be performing in today's pro day. He didn't exactly shine in the NFL combine and his slow 40-yard dash time of 4.82 caused an NFL coach to shake his head.
Seriously though, Te'o must improve his speed if he wants to solidify a first-round spot in the upcoming draft. NFL teams need speedy linebackers that can not only chase down running backs and keep up with tight ends, but they need to be able to drop back in coverage quickly and not be a liability in pass defense.
Having a slow 40 time is going to scare many teams away that were considering the former Heisman candidate. We know Te'o is passionate about the game, has a high football IQ and he is strong in run support from what we have seen over the years. All that is wonderful, but he must trim a few seconds off that time to remove all doubt that he can be a complete linebacker at the next level.
Theo Riddick, RB
Riddick was another Notre Dame player that had a disappointing showing at the NFL combine, clocking in at a subpar 4.68-40 yard dash time. It was also reported, according to UNHD, that he had pulled his hamstring, which would of course explain the slow time.
Riddick is an interesting prospect because he has the ability to be that change-of-pace running back at the next level. He has quick feet and can change direction nicely. Also, despite his smaller frame, he isn't afraid to take a hit, and he does a good job of catching the ball out of the backfield or lining up in the slot.
The former Notre Dame running back is a versatile player that can make a big impact in an NFL offense. He just needs to improve his 40 time and do well in the agility tests to rise up the depth chart. In a draft that isn't deep at running back, Riddick could become one of the sleepers at the position.
Zeke Motta, S
Motta has the reputation of being a big hitter and that is about it at the safety spot. But his aggressiveness, smarts and ability to play close to the line of scrimmage can fit well in an NFL defense if he is given a chance.
It is his cover ability and slow straight-line speed that people have issues with. Motta did not do a good job of silencing those critics during the NFL combine, either, as Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune pointed out.
Rough time for #NotreDame safety Zeke Motta at the NFL Combine. His 4.75 (unofficial) time in the 40 is the slowest in his position group.— Eric Hansen (@hansenNDInsider) February 26, 2013
Motta is a well-built player that could be an enforcer on the defensive side of the ball or at least a valuable special teams player with his tackling ability. You would like to see him improve his agility, straight-line speed and his coverage awareness. If he has a good pro day, Motta may end up going a little sooner than you think.
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