This summer, the National Football Post is breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who might warrant interest from NFL teams in the 2010 draft.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish possess a solid group of NFL prospects and look poised to build on their 7-6 season from a year ago.
Jimmy Clausen: No. 7, QB, 6-3, 217
Exhibits good balance and footwork in the pass game and is consistently set to deliver the football. Throws the ball from his ear and possesses a smooth, quick release, although he gets a bit elongated with his motion when trying to get the ball outside the numbers. Is an accurate passer who consistency strides into his throws and showcases impressive touch on all levels of the field.
Demonstrates good timing in the pass game and has the ability to anticipate throws, but needs to continue to work on going through his progressions more quickly. Is still developing his feel from the pocket and isn’t real comfortable when asked to find his second and third reads. Is slow to decipher information and gets sketchy in the face of pressure. Has a tendency to drift backward in the pocket and fall off throws, which causes his deep ball to float on him.
Needs to do a better job stepping up in the face of danger and keeping his eyes down the field. Possesses above-average arm strength, but isn’t a guy who can just flick his wrist and deliver the football on a rope. However, if he has time to set his feet, he has more than enough zip to make all the throws at the next level.
Impression: A polished quarterback prospect who has the tools to be efficient at the next level, but he hasn’t put it all together yet mentally.
Golden Tate: No. 23, WR, 5-11, 195
Displays impressive coordination and does a great job adjusting to the throw and fighting for the football. Possesses good short-area quickness off the line and knows how to set up defenders, gain an inside release and quickly get into his routes. However, he isn’t real consistent beating press coverage cleanly and can be re-routed easily vs. any kind of bump.
Possesses a good (not great) initial first step, but it’s his impressive second gear that allows him to make plays vertically. Showcases good game speed and has the ability to out-pace defenders and routinely track the ball down the field.
However, he lacks physicality as a route runner and struggles fighting through aggressive defensive backs and gaining consistent separation. Is routinely disrupted in the pass game and needs to continue to develop physically.
Impression: Displays good shiftiness off the line and possesses the ability to track the ball down the field. However, he struggles fighting through any kind of bump and looks more like a team’s No. 2 or 3 option in the Mario Manningham mold.
Sam Young: No. 74, OT, 6-8, 328
A well-built tackle who does a nice job getting his hands under linemen in the run game and working his lower body through blocks. Possesses the power to walk defenders off the ball and seal them from the play.
However, he isn’t a natural bender and struggles maintaining his balance in his base when asked to reach linemen off his frame. Has a tendency to overextend himself too quickly into blocks and is easily slipped at the point of attack.
Lacks the necessary flexibility to really sit into his stance in the pass game. Displays a big initial kick-step off the snap, but struggles keeping his base low and routinely gets too upright on contact. Lacks the power to consistently anchor at the point and can be overwhelmed vs. the bull-rush. Extends his long arms well into opposing defenders, but doesn’t demonstrate much of a punch and fails to lock on and finish blocks.
Impression: A solid run blocker, but he isn’t dominant by any stretch and struggles anchoring vs. the bull rush in the pass game. Looks like a borderline starter at right tackle in more of a finesse scheme.
Eric Olsen: No. 55, OG, 6-4, 305
Quickly gets out of his stance and does a nice job getting his feet around opposing linemen and sealing them from the play. Works his legs hard through contact and can create some initial movement off the ball inside. However, he lacks the body control to stay on blocks throughout the play.
Does a nice job quickly setting in pass protection, but has a tendency to get too high and isn’t real fluid when asked to slide laterally. Routinely gets caught flat-footed on contact and struggles redirecting and mirroring in space. Lacks awareness in the pass game and consistently fails to recognize stunts and blitzes inside; gives up too much penetration because of blown assignments.
Impression: Lacks fluidity in the pass game and at best is a slightly above-average run blocker. Doesn’t possess much upside to his game and looks more like a camp body.
Dan Wenger: No. 51, OC/OG, 6-4, 302
Quickly sets in pass protection and does a nice job keeping his base down initially and gaining proper hand placement inside. Displays the balance and fluidity to move his feet and stay on blocks through contact.
However, he lacks ideal power at the point of attack and can be walked into the backfield. Exhibits good body control and athleticism when asked to stay in front of opposing linemen on slide-down blocks, but he isn’t much of a Velcro player and fails to stay on his man through the play.
Snaps and pivots quickly out of his stance when asked to pull and looks natural reaching defenders at the second level. However, he struggles generating much power on contact and fails to eliminate defenders from the play.
Impression: I like his short-area quickness in the pass game and fluidity in space, but he needs to continue to add more strength to his overall frame in order to hold up inside at the next level. If he can do that, he has the athletic skill set to start in the NFL.
Kyle McCarthy: No. 28, SS, 6-0, 208
Is a secure, wrap-up tackler who takes good angles toward the ball and breaks down well in space. Always seems to be working toward the play and has a motor that runs non-stop.
However, he isn’t real physical or explosive at the point of attack and struggles slipping blockers on all areas of the field. Consistently lets the game come to him and doesn’t make many plays where he is aggressively attacking the football.
Possesses a good feel in zone coverage and keeps his head on a swivel when reading the quarterbacks eyes, although he has a tendency to bite on play fakes. Lacks an explosive first step and struggles getting back up to speed quickly. Doesn’t showcase the ability to cleanly redirect out of his breaks and stay with tight ends in coverage.
Isn’t real fluid in his drop and really struggles when asked to turn and run down the field. Tries to get a punch on receivers in space, but he lacks the body control to do much damage and doesn’t possesses the fluidity to even stay close when transitioning out of his back-pedal. Consistently allows receptions behind him and doesn’t possess much range in the secondary.
Impression: Always is around the action, but doesn’t seem to make many aggressive plays attacking the ball. Is a liability in coverage and doesn’t possess the athletic skill set to play in an NFL secondary. Will have to make it on special teams to have any chance.