Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 8 of 63 APRIL 2017 9 UNDER THE DOME who covers the highly analyzed NFL Draft for "Never met expectations, very disappoint- ing. Expected a lot more off the 2015 film. "He's very talented. I would say he's got the best physical tools of any quarterback in this draft as far as size, arm strength, ability to make plays with his legs or with his arm. The problem is the tape is more in- consistent than any of the top quar- terbacks in this draft." According to NFL Network's Dan- iel Jeremiah, only two of the 32 start- ing quarterbacks in the NFL had a losing record and a sub-60-percent completion percentage during their final season in college: Chicago's Jay Cutler (5-6, 59.1 percent at Vanderbilt in 2005) and Denver's Trevor Siemian (5-7, 58.2 percent at Northwestern in 2014). Kizer completed 58.7 percent of his passes in 2016. Jeremiah said he's still in the early stages of breaking down game film, but can't get past Kizer's inaccurate junior season. "That's one of the things I struggle with," Jeremiah said. "I like his abil- ity, I like his tools, I've heard he's got great character, but that's a hurdle I've got to try to get over." Greg Gabriel, who directed col- lege scouting in the NFL for three decades, including from 2002-10 with the Chicago Bears, wrote on CBS Chi- cago that while he's not sure whether Kizer will be the first or second quar- terback drafted, he has "no doubt" that the team that selects him will be "hitting a home run." ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. thought Kizer should have returned for his senior season. "I watch Notre Dame, I'm a big Notre Dame fan, and to watch him and see the struggles in terms of decision making, late getting rid of the football at times, just didn't have the year you would've expected," Kiper said of Kizer. "With the year being very average, [you would've thought] he'd go back for another year." Another chance to show his wares will be at Notre Dame's pro day on March 23. The NFL Draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia. ✦ The 6-6, 316-pound Jarron Jones posted the fifth-best arm length (35.5 inches) among the 49 defensive linemen at the NFL Combine. PHOTO BY RICK KIMBALL While the spotlight was on quarterback DeShone Kizer during his time in India- napolis, Irish defensive linemen Jarron Jones and Isaac Rochell also looked to bolster their professional futures with their performances at the NFL Combine. After an up-and-down final season with the Irish, Jones is hoping to answer some questions NFL teams have leading up to the draft. He began by doing that at the scouting combine, and he'll also show teams his skills at Notre Dame's pro day on March 23. The Notre Dame defensive linemen wanted to prove to teams he's healthy after two major injuries impacted his Irish career. The Rochester, N.Y., native also wanted to show his character is not a red flag. And most importantly he wanted to display that he's worthy of an early pick in the draft. "I feel like I deserve to be a top-two round pick," Jones said. "I felt like a lot of people are downplaying me because of my injury history and what people say are character flaws. I feel like I'm just as good as any D-tackle in this combine." Jones ran the 40-yard dash in 5.33 seconds, third slowest among the defensive linemen who ran March 5. Jones' 20.5 inches in the vertical jump was last among defensive linemen. He did 22 reps on the bench press, a low number relative to the top competition. But with an arm length of 35.5 inches — the fifth longest among defensive linemen — he's an intriguing physical prospect at 6-6 and 316 pounds. Jones missed the final three games of the 2014 season with a Lisfranc injury in his foot. He then sat out all of 2015 when he tore a ligament in his knee during preseason practice. Proving he's healthy is one thing. Showing his character to NFL teams is another. "It's just telling them the truth," Jones said. "Telling them the truth about me, tell - ing the truth about who I am. I have nothing to hide. I've made some mistakes in my past, and I learned from them. "That's the main thing that I've got out of making mistakes is I like to see the lesson in what I've learned." Jones is currently projected to be selected in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft. He said he's versatile enough to play in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 defensive scheme, having played in both during his time with the Irish. Fighting those consistency problems, though, is a hurdle Jones has to clear. "If Jones played every week like he did against Miami, he'd be in a completely different conversation than the reality he faces now," NFL Network's Mike Mayock said. "He was dominant against Miami. He showed length and power and quickness and everything. "He dominated that game, but you don't see the consistency of his effort and production, which is going to hurt him." The 6-4, 280-pound Rochell showed off his versatility to teams throughout his time in Indianapolis. Like Jones, Rochell believes his experience playing in both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense is invaluable. "I have the skill set and the ability — it's just a matter of putting it all together," Rochell said. "Because I'm a tweener, teams want to hear what I think I am. That's one of my biggest strengths, versatility." Rochell's 25 bench press reps tied for 13th among the 49 defensive linemen who tested. In the 40-yard dash, Rochell tied for 30th with a 4.89. On the vertical jump, Rochell tied for 19th with a 31.5-inch mark. Rochell finished his Notre Dame career with only 4.5 sacks at end. He's considered a late-round draft pick, and will need a solid Pro Day workout to show teams he's more than what he showed with the Irish. He's starting by focusing on his pass rush skills. "The game is becoming such a passing-oriented game. In the NFL, teams are pass - ing 60-70 percent of the game," Rochell said. "So something I will continue to work on is just developing my pass rush. You have to be an elite pass rusher to play this game. And if you want to stay in the game you have to continue to do that." Because he plays a similar position as Jones, Rochell's talent is being compared to that of his teammate. While there's not as much raw talent, he's more consistent. "People look at Isaac Rochell, and they don't see quite as much talent, but they see a guy that comes to work every day, he's banging and working, and not as long, he's 6-3, 280," Mayock said. "So Rochell's going to be a base 4-3 end. He probably goes on the third day, fourth or fifth round." — Matt Jones Irish Defensive Linemen Out To Prove Their Worth

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