Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Draft Day Looms Large for Irish Quad

With the upcoming NFL Draft just 11 days away, several Notre Dame Players have been visiting teams for that right fit. According to numerous draft experts, Trevor Laws, John Carlson, Tom Zbikowski, and John Sullivan, are in the top five of their respective positions.

Laws (4th best DE)
Carlson (3rd best TE)
Zibikowski (4th best SS)
Sullivan (3rd best C)

Overall, Laws is the highest rated Fighting Irish Player in the Draft at 45, while Carlson is 70, Zibikowski 91, and Sullivan 98. Trevor is a lock for the 2nd round, while the others could go as high as the 3rd round, but are more looking towards the middle rounds of the second day of the draft.

According to Scott Wright, editor of NFL Draft Countdown sees both Laws (42nd, Broncos) and Carlson (56th, Packers) going in the 2nd round. Below are Wright’s evaluations of the four major Notre Dame draftees:

Trevor Laws according to Wright: “The type who will never be a star and projects as more of a backup in the NFL but could play in the league for a long time and coaches will adore him.”

Has a non-stop motor…Great strength…Technically sound and really understands leverage…Is real quick and a decent athlete…Outstanding tackler…Can penetrate and make plays in the backfield…Versatile and has played multiple positions in two different schemes…Has a ton of experience against top competition…Really smart and hard worker…Active hands…Productive…Great senior year…A LEADER.

Doesn’t have the height that you look for…Can be too aggressive at times…Is not overly stout at the point of attack…Has a limited pass rush repertoire and basically relies on hustle…Not very powerful…Bit of a ‘tweener…Doesn’t have much upside.

Ok, I had to laugh a little bit because Wright says that Trevor has great strength, but is not very powerful, and then goes on to say that he doesn’t have much of an upside, yet he’s very versatile and has played multiple positions in two different schemes. Really Scott?

One would think you would consider a person who doesn’t have an upside to regress during your collegiate career. As for Laws, he pretty much doubled his output every season:
2004 17 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack
2005 33 tackles, 3 TFL, 1.5 sacks
2006 62 tackles, 9 TFL, 3.5 sacks
2007 112 tackles, 8 TFL, 4 sacks

Yeah, no upside to Laws whatsoever!

John Carlson according to Wright: “Will not be confused for Antonio Gates any time soon but he is a great all-around tight end who should be a NFL starter.

Terrific natural athlete…Has very good size and a big frame with long arms…Runs excellent routes and know how to get open…Has soft, reliable hands…Has shown the ability to stretch the field vertically…Runs well after the catch…Good ball skills and body control…Above average blocker…Very smart…A hard worker and LEADER.

Timed speed is relatively average and he lacks a burst…Needs to get stronger…Is not overly elusive or much of a big play threat…Could stand to show more power and use better leverage as a blocker…Is coming off of a sub par senior campaign.

So how is it Scott that Carlson runs excellent routes, gets open, has reliable hands, runs well after the catch, and can stretch the field vertically, but is not elusive or much a big play threat? He had a sub par senior year, wow, thanks for the very observant eye! If Mr. Wright didn’t figure out why Carlson was used mainly as an extra blocker for a sieve offensive line, than I don’t know what to tell him. John’s number tailed off yes, but he still had 40 receptions and three touchdown receptions after coming back from a knee injury.

John Sullivan according to Scott Wright: “Does not have all the physical tools but he gets the job done…A potential starter if he can regain the form he showed earlier in his career.”

Adequate size and bulk…Really understands leverage and positioning…Excellent strength…Stout at the point…Smart with decent awareness…Intense and a hard worker with a non-stop motor…Tons of experience…A LEADER with top intangibles.

Weaknesses: Isn’t a great athlete…Poor balance…Is not a natural knee bender…Needs to do a better job of finishing his blocks…Not very mobile…Doesn’t get a great push…Had some issues with the shotgun snap…Is not very powerful…Struggled as a senior.

How can a person have excellent strength, but not be very powerful? Is Scott Wright just trying to fill in some lines for his site? I don’t know either. If there was one Notre Dame Player that’s going to be punished for a 3-9 season, it was going to be Sullivan. You can explain the horrible offensive production, but when it comes to bad snaps and missed blocks, that’s all on you Sully!

Tom Zbikowski according to Scott Wright: “Probably a little overrated and is certainly not the pro prospect his press clippings would lead you to believe but he should at the very least be a good backup and special teamer.”

Hard worker and team LEADER with excellent intangibles…Very strong is tough as nails…Smart and has terrific instincts…Does a great job versus the run…Good hands and ball skills…Quick with a burst…Likes to hit and is a reliable tackler…Well built with a very solid frame…A playmaker who can make something happen when he gets the ball…Fiery and intense…Has extensive experience as a punt returner.

Shorter than you would prefer…Does not have great timed speed…Is not a great athlete…Can be too aggressive at times…Does not have fluid hips and could be a liability in coverage…Is prone to biting on fakes…Will need to work on his tackling fundamentals…Might be one dimensional in-the-box type…Has a limited upside.

This one made me laugh a lot. Zibby is a reliable tackler, but needs to work on his tackling fundamentals; I can see that. “Is not a great athlete”, wait a minute; stop the presses on this one. Here are a few things that will contradict that statement, 1) Tommy is a nationally-ranked boxer with a 60-13 overall amateur record and 3-Time Silver Gloves national finalist, 2) A highly regarded option quarterback out of high school that was recruited heavily by Nebraska, and 3) Some of the best athletes on the team are returners, period! Maybe Scott and Mario Manningham have been hanging out together? Whatever the case, Scott needs to lay off the wacky tobacky; it’s clouding his mind and thought process.

One consistent that Wright has about these four Irish standouts is that they are all LEADERS. You can knock their talents and weaknesses, but in the end, no one can take away one’s heart and desire. That’s a true testament of a leader and a Notre Dame man!

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