The Notre Dame Fighting Irish went to the BCS Championship game in 2013, only to be humbled at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide dynasty. Manti Te’o and Tyler Eifert both took advantage of excellent seasons by making the leap to the NFL, but there is still some considerable talent at Notre Dame, including three notable NFL Draft prospects that should have the Fighting Irish in the Top-25 again this coming year.
2013 BCS Championship Odds: +5,000
Notable Prospect #1: NT Louis Nix III – Junior
There is no doubt that Teo had Nix to thank for tremendously boosting his NFL Draft stock, as the massive 6’3’’ 340-pound nose tackle freed up the Notre Dame linebackers to make plays on the defense. Nix is an absolute beast at the point of attack with his size and strength, and his ability to blow things up along the line is the biggest part of what made this group so special a year ago. Another year of experience to work on his craft and understand the game that much more should make Nix that much better in 2014, and there is no doubt the scouts will be looking to add everything he brings to the table to their defense when he becomes available to them in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Notable Prospect #2: LB Prince Shembo – Senior
The dominant play of Nix may have somewhat overshadowed Shembo and took away from the attention that he got, but it also made him that much more effective with defenses focused in on the big man in the middle. A massive frame that has the speed and technique to get after opposing quarterbacks, Shembo will also be more refined in his senior season. Shembo played both defensive end and linebacker for the Fighting Irish a year ago, and that versatility will make him that much more valuable to scouts when he enters the NFL Draft. Defensive coordinators are transitioning from the 4-3 to the 3-4 and vice-versa and also mixing both looks in to their defenses, which will make a player with Shembo’s background that much more attractive.
Notable Prospect #3: OT Zack Martin – Senior
Three of the five starters from the offensive line return for 2013-14, and none will be more important than Martin at left tackle. An absolute rock on the line that has started 38-straight games at Notre Dame, Martin was projected to go in the second round before making the decision to return for his senior year. That should be enough to get him in to the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft if he can continue to progress, and there is no reason to think that he won’t. Martin has all of the tools to be a top-five pick at his position, and he could end up anchoring an NFL offensive line a year from now.
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