NFP Scouting Series: Notre Dame

For the rest of the summer, the National Football Post will be breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who could warrant the most interest from NFL teams in the 2011 draft.

Therefore, today we take a look at the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.


RB Armando Allen: No. 5 (5-10, 201)
Possesses a good build for the position with a compact frame and doesn’t expose much area for tacklers to hit. Displays a good first step when pressing the hole and accelerates quickly out of his breaks. Showcases the speed to consistently reach the corner and can be very dangerous when he gets into the open field. Exhibits some real suddenness to his game as well, with the fluidity in his hips to make a man miss even at full speed. Does a nice job catching the football out of the backfield and looks natural in the receiving game setting up routes and creating after the catch.

However, isn’t a real natural runner in between the tackles at this stage and struggles to quickly decipher information and find run lanes inside. Has a tendency to too often bounce the football outside prematurely and doesn’t look comfortable picking his way through traffic. Lacks ideal power in his lower half — despite his compact size — and has a tendency to get tripped up easily on contact. He has also struggled with some injuries over the course of his career, which will need to be monitored.

Impression: Has a good first step with the wiggle and acceleration to create in space, but at this stage doesn’t look effective enough in between the tackles to be considered much more than an intriguing third-down threat.

RB/FB Robert Hughes: No. 33 (5-11, 245)
A thickly built back who possesses good overall muscle tone through his legs and lower half. However, he’s more of a straight-line guy with the ball in his hands and lacks much wiggle/lateral fluidity to his game. Goes down way too easily on initial contact for a guy his size.

Showcases good range when asked to get out to the second level as a lead blocker and does a nice job quickly dropping his pad level and cutting down defenders on contact. But, he isn’t a guy who has the kind of power to simply drive defenders off the football at the point of attack. Looks comfortable in blitz pick up, consistently keeping his head on a swivel and quickly reaching his target. And can also catch the football out of the backfield, but is limited to more of a check-down guy.

Impression: Possesses a thick build, but just doesn’t stand out enough in any area of the game to warrant a spot on an NFL roster in my opinion. A FB/RB tweener who isn’t dynamic at either spot.

OL Dan Wenger: No. 51 (6-4, 297)
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 will fall off blocks easily on contact.

Snaps and pivots quickly out of his stance when asked to pull and looks natural reaching defenders at the second level. However, he struggles in generating much power on contact and fails to consistently eliminate defenders from the play.

Impression: I like his short-area quickness in the pass game and fluidity in space. However, in order for him to take his game to the next level, he needs to improve the power in his lower half — something he should have been working on during the 2009 season.

OG Chris Stewart: No. 59 (6-5, 344)
A massive, sloppily built interior lineman who possesses a lot of extra girth through his mid-section and is really thin through his calves and lower half. Plays with decent leverage on contact, but is a bit of a waist bender who struggles to consistently sit into his stance and maintain his balance through blocks. Showcases good length and has some power in his hands, but lacks the fluidity to stay on blocks through contact and falls off too easily anytime he’s exposed in space.

Displays an average first step off the snap and is able to get a little initial push as an in-line guy because of his size. Displays a decent range as well when asked to kick-out block on defenders slightly off his frame. However, he isn’t coordinated/fluid enough to stay on blocks for any extended period of time — in both the run and pass game — and too often ends up on the ground.

Impression: A limited athlete who needs to lower his overall girth to have a chance at the next level. Is too heavy and struggles to stay on blocks for any extended period of time.


DT Ian Williams: No. 95 (6-2, 301)
A natural bender who can really coil up into his stance and fire off the football, generating initial leverage for himself on contact. Is an undersized nose, but does a nice job extending his arms into blocks and using his suddenness to slip opposing linemen in space and make his way toward the football on plays away from his frame. Plays with a good motor and demonstrates above-average range in pursuit. Gets into opposing linemen quickly with his good first step and is consistently one of the first linemen moving off the ball. Nevertheless, he isn’t real laterally gifted as a pass rusher and isn’t much more than a push/pull guy, which really limits what he can do on third down.

Lacks ideal power in his lower half and really struggles to push the pocket as a bull rusher and can be sealed easily from the football inside. Isn’t a guy who can consistently anchor on contact vs. the double team, as he relies on his quickness to gain an initial advantage in order to be effective getting up the field. Can be engulfed on contact too easily at times and will struggle to fight his way through opposing linemen once they get their hands on him.

Impression: Plays with leverage and has a good first step to his game, but needs to get stronger though his lower half in order to hold up vs. the power and size at the point at the next level.

OLB Brian Smith: No. 58 (6-3, 234)
A stiff, tightly wound linebacker who lacks range in pursuit and struggles to make plays sideline-to-sideline. Exhibits a good overall build for the position, but struggles with his awareness when making his way through traffic and consistently allows himself to get sealed/cut off from the plays outside.

Gets too high when asked to take on blocks when run at and struggles to anchor and shed inside. Exhibits some power as a tackler, but fails to consistently break down on contact and will take bad angles when working in pursuit.

Impression: He possesses good size, but he’s stiff, isn’t real instinctive and lacks range when asked to close on the football.

Top underclassmen

WR Michael Floyd: No. 3 (6-3, 220)
When this guy is 100% healthy, look out because he possesses the kind of athletic and physical skill set needed to consistently win on the outside at the next level. He’s blessed with a thick, well-built frame and does an excellent job using his quickness and strength to slip/shrug cornerbacks off the line and gets into his routes quickly. Showcases impressive ov erall body control and balance as a route runner and knows how to set up defenders and cleanly change directions out of his breaks. Displays a real suddenness to his game for such a physical specimen and really impressed me with the overall coordination he displayed in all areas of the game. Plus, he’s a load to bring down after the catch and runs with great power, accelerating quickly into daylight.

However, he’s at his best when asked to make plays vertically. Eats up the cushion quickly off the line for a guy his size and has a bit of a second gear once he gets into his stride. The further he gets down the field the harder he is to cover, as he does a great job locating the football, high pointing the throw and coming down with the catch. Now, he does lack elite straight-line speed, but because of his power and overall acceleration for his size, he’s still very tough to stay on when asked to get vertical. He will also get a bit sloppy on outward breaking routes at times and has a tendency to really round off his breaks, especially on the deep out.

Impression: Possesses an impressive combination of power, fluidity and balance for the position and looks like a guy who will be able to consistently win on the outside as a legit No. 1 receiver at the next level.

TE Kyle Rudolph: No. 9 (6-6, 265)
He possesses great overall size for the position, as he looks like an undersized offensive tackle the way his frame is strapped together. And much like an undersized offensive tackle, he’s a long-armed kid with natural flexibility in his lower half and can really sit into a three-point stance and fire off the football. Now, he does look a bit uncomfortable at times in pass protection, as he has a tendency to overextend and lose his balance into blocks. He does an impressive job getting off the line quickly as a run blocker, extending his long arms under the chest plate of defenders and sealing at the point of attack. He’s the kind of athlete who not only can get his feet around and reach the block inside, but is also very effective on perimeter runs when asked to set the edge (see vs. Southern Cal DE Everson Griffen).

In the pass game he does a nice job working his inside jab step in order to get a clean release off the line, and because of his balance and flexibility he wastes very little motion firing out of his stance and getting into his routes. He does a nice job selling his routes in the pass game, setting up defenders and using his big frame and suddenness to consistently separate vs. man. He’s nearly impossible to stop when defenders try to get physical with him because his hands are simply too strong, as he can disengage and separate at the blink of an eye. Plus, he’s a much better straight-line athlete than his frame would indicate with the vertical speed to get down the seam and threaten secondaries over the top. He plays with a mean streak once he gets his hands on the ball and has the power and balance to break a tackle and create after the catch. He’s a natural plucker who locates the football quickly out of his breaks and looks natural adjusting to the throw. However, he still needs to learn to do a better job vs. zone coverage at this stage, as he has a tendency at times to drift toward defenders instead of working toward or sitting down in space.

Impression: Possesses the size to win as an “on-the-line Y” at the next level in both the run and pass game, and he is a guy who I could see coming in and making an immediate impact from day one. A potential blue-chip NFL tight end.

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