Mel Kiper LOVES Notre Dame

Take a look at Mel Kiper’s latest Big Board (link) and you will see five Notre Dame players in his top 15 prospects for next April’s draft. While it’s important to note that Kiper’s list only includes seniors right now and not any likely juniors who will be declaring for the draft, it’s still nice to see some Golden Domers rated this highly among this year’s senior class.

Kiper tends to rank Notre Dame players a bit higher than they actually get draft as last year both Maurice Stovall and Anthony Fasano were rated MUCH higher on Kiper’s rankings than where they actually were drafted, but take a look at Kiper’s comments on Quinn, Samardzija, Abiamiri, Zibby, and Harris.

1. Brady Quinn Sr. QB Notre Dame
Poised and at his best under pressure.

6. Jeff Samardzija Sr. WR Notre Dame
Great hands and speed for his size.

10. Victor Abiamiri Sr. DE Notre Dame
Stepped up as a big-time pass rusher for the Irish.

13. Tom Zbikowski Sr. S Notre Dame

15. Ryan Harris Sr. OT Notre Dame
Solid technique against quick pass rushers.

Even as a Notre Dame, I think Kiper has some of these Notre Dame players a bit over-rated.  I agree with Kiper having Quinn as the first overall prospect.  Quinn’s numbers are great this year and he is the prototypical pro-style quarterback so having him at the top of the list makes sense.

Samardzija at #6 is probably too high considering his numbers are down from a year ago.  The kid’s a beast once he gets the ball in his hands as we saw against UCLA, but he hasn’t shown the ability to get open downfield as he did a year ago and that is going to hurt his draft stock.  Remember how much Chad Johnson’s draft stock fell becasuse of his slow 40 times a few years back?  Same thing could happen to Samardzija unless he makes some big plays downfield over the final five games.

Abiamiri at #10 might actually be pretty accurate.  Abiamiri is turning in some really nice numbers despite facing a lot of double teams and not having a real pass rush threat lining up opposite of him.  He’s on pace to set career highs in sacks and tackles for loss and if he finishes strong down the stretch as he’s done in the past, he’ll be near the top of a lot of draft boards.

Zibby at #13 is really high.  He’s a hell of an athlete and as fierce a competitor as there is, but his coverage skills are going to do him in at the end of the day.  He hasn’t really shown too much improvement in the coverage department this year which will hurt his stock.

Ryan Harris is going to feel the effects of Notre Dame’s poor offensive line production this season.  Harris is a four year starter and while he’s probably a bit small by most NFL standards, he’s got great technique and is as polished a tackle as you’re going to get coming out of college.  Notre Dame’s struggles along the offensive line this season, however, could hurt Harris’s draft stock in a “guilt by association” kind of way.

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  1. My take on these players:

    Quinn- Definitely a top 3 pick. Has all the tools and is coachable.

    Samardzija- Could possibly go in the late 1st round but count on the 2nd. May fall into the 3rd round based on his pre-draft workouts. He takes to many plays off when its not coming his way. Also needs to run better routes.

    Abiamiri- Middle to late 1st round, could fall to the 2nd, but not likely. Remember justin Tuck? Abiamiri is bigger and better, and I believe Tuck went either in the 2nd or 3rd. Scouts and coaches will see how tough and good he is on tape.

    Zbikowski- He’ll be lucky to be a first day pick. He is not a safety. I like the idea of bulking him up ala Urlacher, but his coverage skills are horrible. Love his heart and determination.

    Harris- A lot will depend on what the scouts see on film and if his body type can accommodate more weight. Could be moved to guard. Has great talent and is consistent. Late 1st round to early 2nd.

  2. Quinn has not regressed, the offensive line has. He has already been sacked more this year than all of last year. He has had a great year thus far and is the prototypical successful NFL qb (Strong arm, big, tough, smart, leader, winner, hard worker). He will be a top 3 pick no matter which teams have those picks.

    Samardzija will be based off the 40 time. He has been productive and has great hands. I think his 40 time will be pretty good and he will be rated high. If he is not a 1st round pick, I’m not sure why he wouldn’t go baseball.

    Abiamiri is a 1st round talent and has been very productive. The combine will only help him as he will have great size/speed/strength numbers.

    Harris is only 285. He moves his feet well but I would be flabbergasted if he is a 1st round pick. He would be one of the smallest OL in the NFL at any position much less left tackle.

    Zibby is a tough kid with no coverage instincts. He is physical and has made some big plays at ND in his time but he has to be on a team that cheats its safety in the box alot to be valuable. He is MAYBE a first day draft choice but not based on production this season that is for sure.

  3. Here’s my 2 cents worth:

    Quinn will most likely be one of the top 3 picks unless he shines vs. USC & the bowl game.

    The Shark may go mid to late first round at best but Calvin Johnson will be the first receiver taken. I think most NFL teams have learned not to choose a WR too high based on the recent busts from the last decade or so.

    If I had to bet, I’d say Harris goes in the 3rd round…no way a 1st rounder.

    Abiamiri will be lucky to go late in the 1st round unless he dominates vs. USC & the bowl game. I only say this b/c the general public doesn’t see his impact/talent realizing that he is double-teamed almost every play.

    Poor Zibby. I know it won’t happen, but I’d love to see him come back next year (possibly w/ a conversion to LB). He just doesn’t have the pass coverage skills to excel in D1 much less the NFL. Bulk him up & move him to LB & you may have the next Urlacher. Otherwise, NO WAY he gets his name called in the 1st round.

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