Former Irish stars show off skills for NFL scouts
Some former Notre Dame football stars are hoping Thursday's performance could vault them to the next level. The team held its Pro Day to give players a chance to show off their skills for NFL scouts.
While nine total Irish players participated, All-American offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey drew the brightest spotlight.
Both are expected to be first-round picks in April's NFL Draft, and said it was good to be back on their home turf for one of the final times.
"It was a fun experience getting to work with Q again as I always have," said McGlinchey. "We got to meet some new O-Line coaches and having some new voices teach us some things. It was a lot of fun out there."
One of the more notable attendees was Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard. The Colts hold the sixth pick in the draft, and could be a potential landing spot for Nelson.
While Nelson could possibly be the highest-drafted offensive guard in history and once again left scouts in awe, he still found areas of improvement.
"I can grow a lot," he said. "I've been developed into a great player and there's still some things I can work on, especially with my consistency. I look forward to doing that working up to the draft and all the way through my career."
Nelson added that he planned to meet with the Colts, then have dinner with representatives for the New York Giants who hold the second overall pick.
Beyond the linemen, Pro Day was especially important for players like Nyles Morgan, Andrew Trumbetti, Greer Martini because they were not invited to the NFL Combine.
While running back Josh Adams was invited to the combine he did not participate in on-field workouts, so this was his first opportunity to show that he is healthy and ready for the next step.
"I love football, that I was able to come here and work out in front of my teammates and coaches. It felt good coming out here and playing football," Adams said.
In his first opportunity to show scouts his abilities, Adams did not disappoint. His 4.48 official 40-yard dash time would have been fifth of all running backs at the Combine. His 60-yard shuttle time would have been good for second. His three-cone shuffle time bested all Combine performers.
"We're just working out," Adams said. "We're trying to do the best we can, have a little fun with it as well, but at the same time working hard and really trying to put your portfolio together and show what you can do. I felt like everybody did a great job. Gotta wait to see what happens."
It was one of the largest crowds for an NFL Pro Day with current players like Brandon Wimbush, parents, and scouts on hand.
All 32 teams were represented on Thursday.
"I thought I did pretty good. I learned a lot from these coaches. I appreciate them taking the time to come here and it was fun. I thought me and Mike did a really good job," Nelson said.
We asked Durham Smythe, former Notre Dame tight end, what is the biggest benefit to Pro Day.
"I think for me specifically, especially coming off a year where I had 15 catches in an offense where we ran the ball a lot. Coming out here and catching the ball consistently in these routes, showing the scouts I can run an NFL route tree, things like that were big for me, just because I didn't have that volume of actual receptions during the season," Smythe said.
We asked Equanimeous St. Brown what he could bring or add to an NFL team.
"I think I add a deep threat and I'm a touchdown machine," Brown said.
Malik Zaire, the former quarterback, was given a warm welcome when he returned to South Bend to make the most of his opportunity in front of the NFL scouts.
Zaire had a bumpy career at Notre Dame- battling injuries and eventually losing his starting job for the Irish.
He played in 17 career games in south bend, passing for 816 yards and 6 touchdowns,
He added 300 yards rushing and 2 TDs. He was a graduate transfer to the University of Florida last season, where he played in just four games for the gators.
Zaire reached out to Head Coach Brian Kelly and staff about participating in the pro day and they welcomed him back where it was a reunion with his former teammates.
"I've played with all of these guys. You know, I gave Josh his first touchdown. EQ, I've been with Durham, so you know, it felt like I was back at practice. It was great! I felt like they, we were clicking, just like we left off. So, that's an advantage," Zaire said.
While it was a little surprising to see Zaire back in South Bend, it's actually not unprecedented.
In 2016, former quarterback Everett Golson, who transferred to Florida State, also participated in Notre Dame's Pro Day.