A big welcome to Frank Giasone who is going to assist Chris Gross and Zev Sibony with the Turn On The Jets NFL Draft Coverage. In the aftermath of the National Championship Game, Frank takes a look at Notre Dame’s top NFL prospects, while Zev will be looking at Alabama’s (coming soon)…Both will also take into consideration if any of the prospects could be a good fit for the New York Jets –
While Monday night’s National Title Game was certainly nothing short of awful, the team that found itself on the losing end – the No. 1 ranked (please, try not to laugh) Notre Dame Fighting Irish- really does have some NFL-ready talent coming out in the 2013 Draft this April. Although some Draft stocks may have fallen with Monday’s performance, the overall sentiment remains that this Irish team has a few prospects that appear talented enough to help the Jets in the future.
Today we’ll take a look at the top six potential Notre Dame draft picks in 2013, and see which ones, if any, the Jets should target this April.
Manti Te’o (ILB) – Drafting Te’o has been a highly debated topic within Jets circles the past few months. The middle linebackers’ impressive senior season has led some to deem him the Draft’s “best pick”, while others have gone as far as comparing him to Ray Lewis. His performance on Monday night will surely temper the enthusiasm of a lot of people, as questions now arise regarding Te’o’s ability to shed blocks against the behemoths up front in the NFL. Although Te’o may turn out to be a successful inside ‘backer in the NFL, organizational needs make him a doubtful option for the Jets in Round 1.
Tyler Eifert (TE) – Eifert is another one of the guys that lots of Jets fans are clamoring over. Arguably the highest rated player coming out of South Bend (as far as the Jets needs and system), Eifert boasts the natural ability and size that should translate in this, the ever-evolving world of the tight end. With Dustin Keller’s “Injury Tour” (also known as his Jets career), likely coming to an end, April’s Draft is the perfect place to find his replacement. This time around, Jets fans everywhere are hoping Rex & Co. can find a more complete TE, versatile enough to contribute both in the passing game and as a run blocker. Eifert looks like that guy.
Standing at 6-foot-6, 255 lbs. the Notre Dame TE’s most prevalent attributes are his skills as a receiver. Efiert shows terrific hands and quickness, the ability to go up and catch the ball at its highest point, and solid route running. While most Jets fans want to hear that Eifert will still be on the board when the Jets hit the podium in Round 2, the truth is that he will most likely hear his name called sometime late on Day 1. There’s also the possibility that Eifert could go as high as the top 20 (a team like Chicago may have interest, although glaring needs on the OL make the selection debatable), or at No. 22 to St. Louis. The most likely scenario – assuming he slides past No. 22- is that he’ll find himself as a late Day 1 selection, possibly as Jermichael Finley’s replacement in Green Bay or as the heir apparent to Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta. If the Jets really like him, they’ll probably need to sneak back into the first 20-26 picks or – the less likely option – trade down from No. 9
Interesting Note: Only one TE has been taken in Round 1 since 2010 (Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati, Pick No. 21).
Zeke Motta (FS) – The possible departures of Laron Landry and Eric Smith (the latter more highly anticipated than the former) means the Jets, once again, need to figure out the safety position. Motta doesn’t project as a starting FS in the pro’s, but he does exhibit great size, and is a sure tackler who makes his presence felt on the field. Motta’s strengths are his physicality and intelligence, but his fit in a two-safety system at ND -and his flaws in coverage – make some nervous that he’s susceptible to getting beat deep by NFL wide receivers.
With that being said, his open field tackling and special teams potential make him an interesting Day 3 option.
Prince Shembo (OLB)- While the talented junior has yet to declare for the ’13 NFL Draft, Shembo’s intangibles make him an intriguing prospect as a 3-4 OLB. Impressive speed, quickness off the ball and a high motor, in addition to his sure tackling and ability to fight through blocks, helped him to 52 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 2012, as he seemingly came out of nowhere to shine for the second-ranked run defense (seriously, stop laughing) in college football. The junior also shined at DE when the Irish defense switched to 4-3 looks, increasing his overall value. Shembo may decide he’s better off heading back to school for his senior season, as he’s currently projected to be a Day 3 pick. If he does declare, he’s another interesting option for the Jets ever-needy linebacker corp.
Cierre Wood (RB) – Wood, another Notre Dame junior who has yet to declare for the draft, is a one cut runner who exhibits quickness getting to the second level. Never afraid to lower a shoulder into a defender, the ND ‘back is at times too indecisive behind the line of scrimmage, meaning his decision-making and instincts will need to improve if he wants to have success in the NFL. Another concern with Wood is the absence of breakaway speed that many teams covet in a running back. Doubtful that the Jets will have interest if he declares, especially with Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell on the roster.
Kapron Lewis-Moore (DE) – Lewis-Moore saw his draft value plummet Monday night, after a torn ACL in his right knee took him out of the game in the first half. The injury occurred on the same knee that cut Lewis-Moore’s 2011 season short with a torn MCL. Before the injury, Lewis-Moore was projected as a fifth or sixth round prospect at the DE position, capable of having success at both the three and five techniques in the NFL. With the severity of the injury, and the probable 1-year rehab following surgery- Lewis-Moore may find himself undrafted.