Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
On the edges of Brian VanGorder's defensive line will be senior Ishaq Williams and junior Romeo Okwara. While both Williams and Okwara have the pedigree to be frontline players, neither has shown that ability yet. It's a big reason why the pass rush is considered one of the largest question marks on the Irish defense.
In Williams, Notre Dame has a veteran player who looks the part of an early NFL draft pick. But his on-field production has been minimal in his three seasons since being one of the top defensive end prospects in the country.
Williams hasn't played that position exclusively until this year, instead struggling to find reps at the "Cat" linebacker position, backing up Darius Fleming and Prince Shembo. But at 6'5.5", 271 pounds, Williams has a rare blend of size and speed that should allow him to thrive, and perhaps a new system and a fresh start with VanGorder is just what the doctor ordered.
If projecting Williams' ascent is difficult, so is Okwara's. On paper, the 6'4", 258-pounder looks like the prototype defensive end for a 4-3 system, but Okwara has spent the past two seasons as a utility outside linebacker, making special teams appearances and mostly serving in a reserve role.
Okwara made the position switch this spring as well, the first time in his career he's put a hand on the ground and played defensive line. If defensive line coach Mike Elston can get Okwara to make up for lost time, he's the type of pure athlete who should wreak some havoc off the edge—though he'll need to learn the ABCs of his job first.
For as little starting experience as Williams and Okwara have, the other options at this position are even greener, making this one of the true question marks on the roster.