With the NFL Combine half over, here are some of the emerging story lines regarding former Notre Dame players:
JAYLON SMITH’S INJURY EXAMINED
Linebacker Jaylon Smith gave contradictory – or confusing – answers to reporters’ questions about possible nerve damage in his left knee. Smith tore his ACL and LCL during the Irish’s Jan. 1 loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
NFL team physicians were allowed to examine Smith today to evaluate the extent of his injury. Doctors will need to determine what nerve damage, if any, has been suffered – and if Smith will be able to recover from it.
In the media scrum, Smith initially said there was no nerve damage. In later questioning about an Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO) brace he’s wearing, the junior linebacker said: “It’s helping the nerve heal.” He maintained throughout that the nerve was not “stretched” during the accident.
A FoxSports.com source – who was not named – told the publication that two doctors who evaluated Smith today had diverging opinions. The second doctor, the report said, pegged Smith’s chance at a full recovery at only 10 percent.
Smith was unsure of his own recovery timeline. Ian Rapoport, a NFL Network reporter, said teams – which he did not name – believe the linebacker will miss the entirety of the 2016 season.
Before today, the Fort Wayne, Ind. native was considered a certain Top 15 pick – with at least one mock draft having him as high as #7. If these evaluations cause Smith to tumble out of the first round, he will likely be able to collect on a $5 million loss of value insurance policy he purchased last year.
You can watch Smith walk, seven weeks removed from surgery, in this video shot today.
C.J. PROSISE BLAZES
Running back C.J. Prosise ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds today, which made him the eighth-fastest back at the Combine among 22 participants. The 4.48 second mark tied Prosise with former Irish running back George Atkinson III, who participated in the 2014 Combine.
C.J. Prosise runs an unofficial 4.46 in his first 40-yard run at the NFL Combine. pic.twitter.com/3FHHYrrxLz
— BlueandGold.com (@BGInews) February 26, 2016
Prosise’s overall performance was quite similar to Michael Floyd’s output in 2012.
- Prosise: 6 foot tall, 220 pounds, 4.48 40-yard dash, 35.5 inch vertical leap, 121 inch broad jump
- Floyd: 6 foot 3 inches, 220 pounds, 4.47 40-yard dash, 36.5 inch vertical leap, 122 inch broad jump.
Having seen this comparison, Floyd tweeted:
He making $$$$$$ https://t.co/h5v1gsM7eX
— MichaelFloyd (@MichaelMFloyd) February 26, 2016
Not really the natural hands you want to see from a converted WR. C.J. Prosise was hit and miss in drill work today. pic.twitter.com/XvzdGlXAqb
— Ethan Young (@EthanYoungFB) February 26, 2016
RONNIE STANLEY BATTLING TO BE FIRST TACKLE PICKED
Ronnie Stanley and Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil are widely considered to be the best tackles in the upcoming draft. Many weak teams are looking for a left tackle to protect their quarterback’s blind side and today was an opportunity for teams to evaluate Stanley and Tunsil side-by-side.
While Tunsil opted to skip most timed events, Stanley ran a respectable 5.20 second 40-yard dash (16th out of 47 offensive linemen), took 4.90 seconds to complete the 20-yard shuttle and 8.03 seconds to finish the three-cone drill.
Tunsil did his best to impress as well, demonstrating absurd athleticism and causing scouts to gush about him more than any other player who participated in drills Friday.
The Rebels top lineman only had one hiccup today. His former teammate, Robert Nkemdiche, said Tunsil was in his hotel room when a drunken Nkemdiche fell 15 feet out a window before the Sugar Bowl. Nkemdiche was cited for marijuana possession, but did not connect Tunsil to the drugs.
Here’s a fun drill that allowed Stanley to play “mad dog” to Tunsil’s mirror:
Tunsil vs Stanley (as the mad dog) pic.twitter.com/BWz8d9Fj2B
— Rolo (@RoloEdits) February 26, 2016
ALSO APPEARING TODAY
- Center Nick Martin ran a 5.22 second 40-yard dash, did 28 reps on the bench press, jumped 97 inches in the broad jump, took 4.72 seconds to complete the 20-yard shuttle and 7.57 seconds to finish the 3-cone drill. His performance is similar to that of former Irish offensive lineman Eric Olsen, who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 draft.
- Defensive end Romeo Okwara was measured today – and his results are remarkably similar to former Irish tight end Troy Niklas’ measurables during the 2013 NFL Combine.
- Romeo Okwara: Height: 6-5; Weight: 265 lbs.; Arm length: 34 1/8″; Hands: 10 1/8
- Troy Niklas: Height: 6-6; Weight: 270 lbs.; Arm length: 34 1/8″; Hands: 10″
- Will Fuller logged 10 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press. Chris Brown skipped the event.
- Sheldon Day’s measurables: 6 feet tall, 286 pounds, Arm length: 32 7/8″; Hands: 9 3/8″
The NFL Network will air the Combine from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
- On-field: Chris Brown, Will Fuller
- Bench press: Sheldon Day, Romeo Okwara & Jaylon Smith
- Measurements, interviews and medical exams: KeiVarae Russell, Elijah Shumate
- On-field: Sheldon Day, Romeo Okwara
- Bench press: KeiVarae Russell, Elijah Shumate
- On-field: Elijah Shumate