After redshirting as a true freshman in 2010 and playing a reserve role in 2011, Christian Lombard stepping into the starting lineup last year and started all 13 contests for Notre Dame at right tackle. Originally thought to be a guard out of high school, Lombard manned the right end of the Notre Dame line last year and more than held his own in the process.
Lombard earned his spot in the starting lineup for Harry Hiestand’s offensive line after two rather uneventful seasons in South Bend, but now heads into his senior season with two years of eligibility remaining and 13 career starts under his belt.
Why Christian Lombard could be ranked higher
After starting all 13 games last season Lombard received plenty of experience that he can parlay into a dominant senior season if he elevates his game another level in 2013. Lombard was solid as a first time starter a year ago, but wasn’t over powering. One of the best compliments of his performance in 2012 is that he was actually pretty unnoticeable in that he didn’t spend much time getting burned or committing penalties.
Lombard should be even better in 2013 after facing off against some great defenses a year ago – most notably Alabama in the BCS Championship game in January. Experience like that, even if it is tough to take at the time, can be vital to the development of an offensive lineman.
One reason Lombard might appear better in 2013 is outside of his control – whoever lines up next to him at right guard. Last year Lombard played next to Mike Golic who was not exactly a dominating offensive lineman. If Connor Hanrattay or Ronnie Stanley or whoever fills that role can step in an raise the play of the right side of the line, Lombard will be a beneficiary.
Why Christian Lombard could be ranked lower
There’s been a lot of internet conjecture about Lombard moving to right guard if someone else emerges as a right tackle since many feel that Lombard is best suited to play inside where his strength can be use to open running lanes for the Irish ground game. More big than quick, Lombard’s game is about getting his hands on a defender and over powering him. Where he has struggled at times is against speed rushers.
Lombard does not appear to be headed back inside at this time though and thus he could struggle with speed rushers at times again this year. If Ronnie Stanley continues to develop and emerge and presents the Irish coaching staff a more athletic right tackle option though, that all could change.
What would a successful 2013 season be for Christian Lombard?
Lombard will be a mainstay in the Irish offensive line this year and most likely again next year with a 5th year of eligibility. If Lombard can raise his game from just being solid to being dominant at times, he will set himself up nicely for his final year of eligibility in 2014 – a year that be his 3rd of being a starting offensive linemen for Notre Dame.
One thing to keep an eye on for Lombard though is the quarterback position and how much, if at all, Malik Zaire plays. As a lefty quarterback, Lombard would be tasked with guarding Zaire’s blindside. Whether or not Lombard possesses the quickness and footwork for the task remains to be seen. Lombard’s development in both of those areas will go a long way in determining where his career will ultimately project out at Notre Dame as will the development of the other right tackles on the roster.
The rest of our countdown so far: