Breaking Down Sheldon Day and Elijah Shumate, Notre Dame

As I stated yesterday, Notre Dame is loaded with NFL caliber prospects but many of them are underclassmen. On defense most likely their best prospect is outside linebacker Jaylon Smith who is a true junior. Until he actually declares for the draft, I will not report on him. Today we will profile two of their better senior defensive prospects, Sheldon Day and Elijah Shumate. Sheldon Day – Defensive Tackle Day is a three-year starter and team captain for Notre Dame. While he didn’t start as a true freshman in 2012, he got considerable playtime on a team that went to the National Championship game. As a sophomore, Day played mostly as a 5 technique player in a 3-4 scheme. In 2013 with the arrival of Brian Van Gorder as defensive coordinator, Day has played mostly as a 3-technique and that is his ideal position for the next level. Day lacks ideal defensive tackle size. He is listed as being 6’2 but will probably measure in the 6’1 area at the Combine. He has a thick build and seems to have good arm length for a shorter player. He plays at about 285-290 pounds. The strength of Day’s game is his quickness and explosiveness. He gets off the ball very quickly and with his strength, power and quick hands he usually is able to control his opponent. He plays in a one gap defense and with his explosive first step he is able to get penetration and be extremely disruptive versus the run game. He has excellent change of direction, balance and overall body control which helps him to consistently make plays. With his natural power, he plays stronger and bigger than his size. His instincts and reactions are very good and he is consistently around the ball. As a pass rusher he again gets off the ball very quickly and has outstanding hand use for a college player. He is able to get separation from blockers, use counter moves and has a burst to the quarterback. He plays with a non-stop motor and is an excellent pursuit player. Overall, if you didn’t know his size and just watched his tape you would say he is a no brainer first-round type selection for a one gap 4-3 team. Unfortunately, at the defensive tackle position size does matter to many clubs. How he actually measures will have a lot to say as to where he eventually gets drafted. Some have described Day as being a poor man’s Aaron Donald and I can buy into that theory. He is not quite the playmaker that Donald was at Pitt, but he is not far behind either. Regardless of where he gets drafted, he will become a very good NFL player. Elijah Shumate – Safety Shumate has been an off and on starter for Notre Dame during his four year career. As a true freshman in 2012 he got significant playtime as a nickel back. In 2013 he started four games but was primarily a backup. In 2014 he got 10 starts in 13 games and this season he has started most -  but not all of their games. Shumate has very good size at about 6'0 – 223. He is a good athlete with good play speed (4.57 est.). He is best as a run support player. He is strong and explosive, a very willing hitter and usually a strong tackler. On the negative side, Shumate lacks top instincts, isn’t a quick reactor and can struggle some in coverage. In coverage he is better in zone than man, but he has only average receiver awareness and does not read and react to routes as quickly as you would like. His ball skills are average and he has only two career interceptions. Overall, if he played 10 years ago he would be a better prospect. He is your basic box safety and he can be a force versus the run. In today’s game with safeties asked to be much more involved in coverage he lacks the skill set to be that type of player. At this time I see him more as a free agent type player who can be a very good special team’s player but he will struggle if you need to use him in coverage. In recent weeks, high play has picked up and the light may be coming on so I may revisit this player after the season for a possible upgrade. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe  

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