Gains and losses from Notre Dame's pro day

Gains and losses from Notre Dame's pro day
March 20, 2014, 8:30 pm
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For Louis Nix and Zack Martin, Thursday's pro day at Notre Dame only reinforced the likelihood each player winds up selected in the first round of the NFL Draft a month and a half from now.

But facing a final opportunity to impress representatives from all 32 NFL teams, some former Irish players improved their stock while others, at the best, didn't do anything to improve it.

Fourteen former Irish players participated: Quarterback Tommy Rees, running back George Atkinson, wide receivers T.J. Jones and Robby Toma, tight end Troy Niklas, offensive linemen Martin, Chris Watt and Mike Golic Jr., defensive linemen Nix, Stephon Tuitt and Kona Schwenke, linebackers Carlo Calabrese, Dan Fox and Prince Shembo, cornerback Bennett Jackson and kicker Nick Tausch.

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Niklas and Tuitt were limited participants due to pre-existing injuries, and Jones pulled out due to an injury/illness, according to reports. For Jones, it certainly was a disappointment -- he's a brilliant, if undersized, receiver who's projected as a late-round pick. A complete showing on pro day certainly could've helped him get noticed.

Fox, who wasn't invited to the NFL Combine last month, had an excellent showing -- he ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, which would've ranked as the third-fastest time for a linebacker at the Combine. When Fox was snubbed for the Combine, he pointed out to CSNChicago.com that there have been players who didn't earn an invite who wound up being drafted -- and he made it his mission to be one of those players. He certainly helped that case Thursday.

Watt was able to participate in offensive line drills as well as the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, three-cone drill, vertical leap and broad jump. That was good news for him, seeing as he was only able to perform the bench press at the Combine due to a torn PCL suffered Nov. 30 last year at Stanford.

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Atkinson improved his time in the 20-yard shuttle (4.38 at pro day, 4.46 at the Combine), though he didn't run the 40-yard dash Thursday. He ran a solid, yet unspectacular, 4.48 40-yard dash at the Combine and could've stood to improve off that today to bolster his chances of being drafted in May.

The best performance of Thursday came on Jackson's 40-yard dash -- the cornerback ran it in 4.40 seconds, greatly improving from his 4.51 time at the Combine. He also did the 20-yard shuttle in 4.0 seconds, another impressive showing. Jackson, projected as a late-round draft pick, solidified his stock and may have improved it at pro day.