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.