John Sullivan, C
(6034, 304, 5.23-5.48) Notre Dame
Notes: Born 8/8/85, in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. One of four children. His brother Rick played rugby at Indiana University. Graduated from Greenwich (Conn.) High School, where he was a Parade and SuperPrep All-American. Starter at center the final three seasons, also played nose guard on defense. Helped lead his team to a 12-1-1 mark in 2002. Posted 20 tackles-for-loss and 12 sacks on defense. Was a USA Today second-team All-American and Connecticut's Player of the Year in high school. Hails from the same high school that produced Hall-of-Fame quarterback Steve Young. Had a 138-6 record as a wrestler in high school, winning three state championships and placing seventh en route to earning All-America honors in 2003. Also lettered in water polo and rugby.
College: Redshirted in 2003. Started all 12 games in 2004. Started the final 8-of-12 games in 2005. Started all 13 games in 2006. Graduated in '06. Started 10 games (missing 2 with a knee injury) at center in 2007. Started 33 of the last 37 games for the Irish. Graduated from the Mendoza College of Business, with a degree in marketing; earned a 3.500 grade-point average in '07 spring semester.
Combine Numbers: At 6034, 301, he posted 1.80 10-yard dash, 3.03 20-yard dash, 5.35 40-yard dash, 4.55 short shuttle, 7.62 three-cone time, 30-inch vertical jump, 8'7" broad jump and did 21 reps at 225 pounds. Has posted 350-pound bench press, 600-pound squat and 340-pound power clean. Has 31 1/8-inch arms and 9 ¾-inch hands. Had an impressive Wonderlic score of 35.
Pro: Selected by the Vikings in the sixth-round (No. 187 overall) with a pick acquired from Kansas City as part of the Jared Allen.
Positives: Very smart. Makes all the line calls. Natural leadership ability in the pivot. Nice size and strength. Good frame to get stronger. Tenacious. Good competitor. Flashes some pop, power and nastiness. Plays with power and has a strong lower body and base. Can anchor nicely in pass protection. Can mirror effectively when covered up, showing good hand use and balance. Picks up secondary rushing threats well. Adapts to different looks quickly due to his intelligence.
Negatives: Too much of a waist-bender. Struggles to get out on defenders at the second level and isn't particularly good at adjusting to a moving target in the open field. Falls off blocks occasionally. Has had some trouble with the short exchange at times. Does not truly stand out or dominate.
Summary: Will get a year to learn the system and figures to compete for more playing time in his second season. Has the tools to eventually develop into a solid starter if he develops a bit more consistency.
What they said:
"We talked to [Notre Dame coach] Charlie Weis. I like some of the things that he brings to the table. He's a tough guy, a very smart guy. He's from Greenwich, Conn., originally. I like what he brings."- Vikings head coach Brad Childress
"At this point, I'm with a team that I'm incredibly happy to be with. I couldn't be happier with the result of how the draft went and looking at draft stock, up, down, it doesn't matter to me at this point. I'm on a great team and I'm happy with my situation. I think it's as great a situation as a young player can have. Matt Birk is an incredible player. He's someone I've looked up to for some time. When it comes to centers in the NFL, he's second to none. I'm looking forward to coming here, competing and learning from the best." - Sullivan
"He is an excellent value at this point in the draft. While he doesn't have great lateral mobility, he masks this weakness by locking out his arms and riding pass rushers down the line. He is also a physical drive-blocker. Vikings now have an heir apparent for an aging Matt Birk." - ESPN.com
"Regressed as a senior starting alongside two freshman guards and too often did not get help from his sides. Despite limited agility, he is very strong, plays with power and could bring the most value to a team that likes to play with power." - Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly
"He is technically sound, has ideal size, and is extremely intelligent. However, he struggled to both anchor and sustain this past year, grading out as no better than a late-round possibility. At the pro level, his short arms will also be an issue. There is still reason to believe from past performance that he can operate capably as a starting center at the pro level." - Mel Kiper, Jr.
"Considered by many as the top center prospect at the start of '07, Sullivan falls victim of being associated with what was an atrocious season for the Fighting Irish. He shows the ability to handle both big and fast defenders and proved his worth at the Senior Bowl." - NFL Draft Bible
"Disappointed with his play in 2007. Is an experienced hand with intelligence, but was surprisingly not a natural knee bender even with an extensive wrestling background. Didn't get consistent fits inline (inconsistent hand placement). On pass protection, didn't lower his base and make a consistent stand vs. a power rush. Also had a number of very untimely gun snap errors in 2007. In my opinion, is a far better player than he showed." - Tom Marino. Scout.com
"A hard-nosed football player who maximizes his talents. Is another prospect who has an excellent football IQ. Is solid in pass blocking and plays with proper leverage in doing so. Is a prospect who will not be overwhelmed from a mental aspect in the transition from the college ranks to the NFL. Sullivan has limited upside due to his physical limitations. He may have maxed out already, which is of much concern for NFL teams. Is going to struggle mightily at the point of attack, and will need to advance significantly as a run blocker to sustain success." - Matt MacCoy, The War Room Report
"Sullivan is one of the better center prospects in the draft. He gets out of his stance quickly and ready to take on the lineman. He has the power at the point of attack to control the defender, and drive them off the ball in the running game. He is tough and will not stop until the play is over. He is a center, but he may be able to play a guard position because of his ability to move defenders off the ball." - Robert Davis, FootballsFuture.com
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