There is still time for everyone to improve their draft stock, especially at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., at the end of the month. However, the big picture is becoming a little clearer after the college all-star games and mainly the Senior Bowl has been played. Or has it?
Irish Eyes spoke with two highly respected scouts about their thoughts on the latest batch of Irish players, and where they think their names will be called when the draft finally gets here on April 28-29. The first three rounds will be that Saturday, with the final four rounds coming on Sunday.
Tony Pauline is the publisher and head scout for tfydraftpreview.com, a direct partner with Scout.com. Tony Marino is Scout.com's latest hire, and was the NFL's youngest scout at one time, and the league's youngest ever 30-year veteran. He worked the last six years for the St. Louis Rams, and the 13 years before that with the New Orleans Saints. He has also worked with the New Your Giants, the Dallas Cowboys, the Chicago Bears, the World League and the USFL.
*Quarterback Brady Quinn
Pauline's Take: "He had a disappointing season in the eyes of NFL scouts. He just didn't progress. He made a lot of head-scratching throws and decisions. Has the physical skills to play at the next level, but some of the polish is off the shine.
"I still think he is going to be a top-six pick. I'm not going to buy this dropping to the bottom of the top-10 crap. If JaMarcus Russell goes before him, which I think he will, then Quinn will be either the third or fourth pick. Either Cleveland or Tampa Bay is where Quinn will go."
Marino's Take: "I'm not the biggest Brady fan. I think he is a good one. I think he is a great competitor. I think he has done things very well. I think he is a great product of the system. He does a great job of executing their lateral passing game."
"Can make most of the throws. Pass set is impressive, he is always cocked to throw. He can hasten his delivery if necessary. Good awareness in the pocket, makes time in the pocket, and when called upon is a real good scrambler with escape skills. Good at ad-libbing and has good check-down skills. That comes from experience and coaching and a little bit of instincts. An accurate short and intermediate passer, and can throw on the move. Those our powerful things I've said about him. The downside, I didn't think he was accurate with deep balls, and I thought he had a little problem rolling across his body and throwing to the left. More of a thrower than a passer on the deep throws.
"No way he is a (Dan) Marino or a (Peyton) Manning, but without question, anything you are looking for in a franchise quarterback, he compares well. He has really good leadership skills and his teammates really believe in him. I think he is going to be a good NFL quarterback as long as he goes to the right system.
Mike Martz would do wonders with him if he went to Detroit. He'll be a top-10, top-seven or top-eight guy. I don't see him having a lot of apprentice time, I think he'll be ready to play rather quickly."
*Defensive Tackle Victor Abiamiri
Pauline's Take: "A guy who had first round potential. Was not good as a senior. Has the size and the frame. Defensive lineman usually go earlier than anticipated. Looked lost at times last year. Shows marginal instincts and did not play well at the Senior Bowl. Could have went mid-first round, now probably goes mid-to-late second round."
Marino's Take: "I think he is a real athlete. Maybe even a better athlete than a football player. I think he has a chance to be a pass rusher. Has good balance. He is a premium athlete at a position where that is tough to find. I think he is another guy that is developing. He has range, can run you down from the backside, has quickness. Plays on his feet. When I think about him, top of the second round. Could he sneak into the first round, probably would've if you didn't have all the influx of defensive lineman that are coming out as juniors."
*Offensive Tackle Ryan Harris
Pauline's Take: "He's dropping like a rock. He did not have a good senior year, and was awful at the Senior Bowl. He was getting beat like a drum, and at one point during Thursday's practice, Jon Gruden was screaming at him.
"Harris was a second or third round pick and has dropped two or three rounds. He will probably go in the fifth-round area. He has limited size, and no strength."
Marino's Take: "He didn't have a very good Senior Bowl week. He had a very difficult week, but there are some things about him, and I really like him. I think he is a good player. I don't know if he is a left tackle or not."
"It's a hard thing to find offensive linemen. When you have a chance to get a premium one, and I think there is only a few premium ones in this draft, you take that chance. I think he might be the third best one in the draft behind the guy from Wisconsin, (Joe) Thomas, and the guy from Penn State, Levi Brown.
"The upside is he is a good athlete, a really intelligent kid. One thing he is and you have to this as an offensive lineman is he is a knee bender. He can do everything, reach block, get down field and adjust and move.
"He is not a big guy. He needs to improve his overall body strength. You can get guys stronger, you can't get guys to bend their knees. He needs to anchor better and be able to drop his base better.
"I'd make him fail at the position before moving him from the left side. He is more of a quick athletic guy, that will mature in all areas with more strength. I think he is a late first round to top of the second round guy."
*Running Back Darius Walker
Pauline's Take: "I think he made a mistake entering the draft. A solid all-around back. Not one distinguishing feature. I think he is more of a third-down back, situational runner, third-round kind of guy. He doesn't really stand out too much."
Marino's Take: "I think he is a mid-round pick. I do like him, but I don't know if he has the speed to be in the upper echelon like the kid from Oklahoma (Adrian Peterson) has.
"What he gives you, is he can do so many things. He can run, catch, block, he's not a prima donna. I think he is a good runner, I just don't see the real juice. Maybe I'm wrong, I've been wrong before.
"I think he is a good back, I just don't think he is a great one. I think he will be a good solid guy, maybe does a few more things than Julius (Jones) could. But Julius was a homerun threat and that's the difference."
"When watching Notre Dame, I was always watching the two receivers, the quarterback, the tackle, the defensive end, but he just kept showing up."
*Defensive Tackle Derek Landri
Pauline's Take: "I like Landri. Not a guy with great size, doesn't have great upside potential, but he is a mid-to-late round guy. He is a one gap type of player, like what the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts do with their tackles. He won't be a starter at the next level, maybe could develop into one. A guy you are going to use as a rotational lineman. Again, lineman usually go higher than expected."
Marino's Take: "He's a high effort player. Goes all the time. Good initial reaction. I think he reads blockers ahead of time and finds the football. Quickness to gain advantage, needs to beat you off the go. Plays on his feet in traffic. I think he has gap quickness. Physical when he wraps up for tackles. His change of direction and close to the football looked good. As a pass rusher, was most effective when he beat you off the go to the gap. That's what he was best at.
"He doesn't play big. I thought he got covered up inside, did not play double teams well, and had trouble with wide bodies. Disappointing use of hands to shift blocks. Appears shorter than listed height. I thought he had some problems with big bodies inside, and power rush moves need further refinement.
"I like this player, and I feel a lot of negatives are coachable and can be developed. I think he has mid-round potential."
*Receiver Rhema McKnight
Pauline's Take: He helped himself, did really well coming off the knee injury. Not the fastest guy in the world. Combine workouts will tell a lot with him. Probably end of the first day guy. A team with a west-coast offense would take a guy like McKnight."
Marino's Take: "I didn't see special stuff from him. I think he is a red-zone guy. To me he is a possession receiver with size and strength. I don't see any run skills after the catch. I saw some exceptional catches in the USC game. He is a late-round pick.
"I don't see real speed. He'll surprise me if he runs well (at the NFL combine)."
"His upside, good firm hands, can work him inside, match guys up like him inside against those smaller nickel backs. He'll catch on contact. Good abilities to adjust to the ball. I thought he adjusted to the overhead ball really well, although he does not have the real speed to get that deep route. I think he has great flexibility, can read on the move. His downside, he lacks real speed, no juice or gear changing. On overthrows, the ball stays overthrown. His quickness at best is adequate.
"He was an adequate contributor in the running game and a solid college player. I thought he did some good things.
"He is not a bell-cow guy, meaning he is not going to be your number-one guy. Probably not a number-two guy. He has enough talent to be a slot receiver or motion guy, and those guys can contribute. If he can function as a special teams guy, he can do some things."
*Guard Dan Santucci
Pauline's Take: "He's a second-day guy. If he works out well and lifts well at the combine, because he doesn't have the size, he will turn some people on. He is a fifth-sixth round guy."
Marino's Take: "He is a tough guy. I liked his tenacity and toughness. Very steady dependable and smart. I liked his strength, worked around the defender well after contact, plays to the whistle, good awareness and good zone blocking effectiveness. Scans very good, looks around, and works to the second level well."
"I did not think he was a gifted athlete. Appears to have short arms, but I may be wrong. Didn't think he blocked well effectively in space, pulling and leading, I thought he was a hit or miss guy. Needs to work on lateral mobility, and his pass protection is adequate right now. Stout guy but does not adjust well in space."
"He has adequate athletic skills and quickness. Was most effective in short areas. A nasty guy, liked to cuff you and finish you off."
"Maybe an overachiever. I think he has late round draft potential, and is a serviceable backup in the league. If he is called on to play in short periods of time, I think he can play. There are tons of guys like him in the league."
* Safety Chinedum Ndukwe
Pauline's Take: "Great athlete, marginal football player. A run-defending safety that can't get out of his own way covering the pass. He looks outstanding. He is going to be big and strong at the combine. His overall football skills leave a lot to be desired. Maybe he will go in the late rounds."
*Cornerback Mike Richardson
Pauline's Take: "A solid player, more of a zone backup guy. I don't think he will get drafted, but if he plays well on special teams, I think he does enough things well to get kept as a dime back."
*Guard Bob Morton
Pauline's Take: "I like Morton. Of all the offensive lineman, I think Morton played better than expected compared to what Harris and Santucci did. I don't know if he will be drafted, but he will get to camp and have the opportunity to turn heads. He's not a great athlete."
*Tight End Marcus Freeman
Pauline's Take: "I happen to like him. He doesn't have great size, and doesn't run real fast. A solid guy that could make a practice squad. Will get some looks in camps this summer, and could make it as a third tight end on the next level, if a team wants to keep three tight ends and not spend a lot of money. I think he is on someone's team."