Brian Kelly hasn’t addressed the subject of Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph’s potential early departure for the NFL this season, but on Monday he told reporters that both juniors have in fact asked the NFL for an evaluation on their draft prospects. The first year head coach, however, said that he is doing what he can to keep the duo in South Bend for another season.
“We’re heavily recruiting them. We’re recruiting them for Notre Dame,” Kelly said when asked about the possibility of Floyd and Rudolph leaving early before admitting that both players have requested evaluations from the NFL. “We’ve already begun the early evaluation process for them. They’ve asked, both of them, which is different than last year. I don’t know that either one of those players (Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate) had asked to be even be evaluated early last year. They were gonna go where both of these young men have asked to be evaluated by the NFL Evaluation Committee. We’ve begun that process and we should be able to get some information on where they are projected to go (in the draft) in the next few weeks.”
Underclassmen can ask the NFL for an evaluation to see where they are projected to be drafted. The committee, made up of former NFL talent evaluators then provides the player with an estimate as to where they’ll be selected.
The fact that both Floyd and Rudolph asked for evaluations is actually a good sign. As soon as both started as true freshmen for the Irish in 2008, everyone knew this would be a distinct possibility. Since both asked to be evaluated, however, it suggests that neither has made up their minds about their futures.
Both Floyd and Rudolph are ready for the NFL physically, but injury concerns by NFL teams could affect their draft status. Floyd has suffered an injury requiring him to miss multiple games in each of his three seasons with Notre Dame. Of a possible 37 games, Floyd has missed 9 due to various injuries. When he has played, he has been one of the most productive receivers in the country though and is currently tied with Jeff Samardzija’s for the school record in touchdown receptions with 26.
Floyd will also have to compete with a lot of talented receivers for the top draft spots. Fellow juniors AJ Green, Julio Jones, and Jonathan Baldwin could all potentially declare for the Draft as well.
Rudolph will face similar injury concerns after missing the last 6 games of the 2010 season. Like Floyd, he has also missed 9 games in the past 3 seasons due to injury. The difference for Rudolph is that is has the prototypical build for a tight in the NFL and will have far less competition at tight end than Floyd will at wide receiver.
Notre Dame would likely have an easier time replacing Rudolph than Floyd. Tyler Efiert’s emergence over the last few weeks combined with the presence of freshman Alex Welch and the arrival of highly touted Ben Koyack in recruiting would help lessen the blow if Rudolph were to leave for the NFL. At wide receiver, Notre Dame just doesn’t have another wide receiver like Floyd on the roster for 2011 season.
Of course, there is also the matter of the pending labor negotiations between the NFL and the Players Union. Reports have been circulating for months, if not longer, about the potential for a lockout in 2011 and it remains to be seen how the uncertainty regarding the labor agreement will affect the decision making of underclassmen this season.
At a minimum, it’s nice to see Kelly openly state that he is recruiting both for Notre Dame at this point. Hopefully for Notre Dame’s sake, he as successful here as he’s been on the recruiting trail lately.