NEPD Staff Writer: Jonny Frayne
An all-time record crowd came to witness the first ever night game at Michigan Stadium and with a national TV audience also with their eyes on the prime time matchup between Notre Dame and Michigan, there was no better stage for future draft prospects to showcase their talent.
A wild night in The Big House culminated with some late heroics from Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson to hand the Wolverines a huge win over their rivals.
There’s no question that junior QB Denard Robinson is an outstanding playmaker but his game doesn’t translate to the pro’s. He possesses a strong arm and can turn a negative play into a big gain with his feet but his throwing accuracy and decision making was off on a number of plays as he threw 3 interceptions. He relied on his receivers to make plays on 50-50 balls and while his outstanding 4th quarter play led Michigan to a victory, he just doesn’t have the consistency needed to be an NFL quarterback at this moment in time. Another year in Michigan’s new pro-style offense could help his stock but with his athleticism, I see him transitioning to wide receiver like many other college quarterbacks have done before him.
On the end of 3 of Robinson’s passes was senior WR Junior Hemingway. He showed good ability to adjust to the football and also competed on a jump ball to go up and catch the ball at the highest point. At 6-1 225 he is a physical receiver who will use his frame to fight for the ball but his speed is a question mark and he may struggle to gain separation at the next level.
Hemingway was impressive but even more impressive was Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd. Another physical receiver 6-3 227, Floyd is a nightmare to deal with one on one, as the Michigan DB’s found out. When left one on one, Floyd dominated and he used his big frame to beat press coverage on slant patterns. He outweighs DB’s and is difficult to bring down in the open field, showcasing his ability to gain yards after the catch against Michigan, despite not having top end speed. Lining up in the slot as well as at X receiver, Floyd was a problem all day for the defense and he should be at the next level. While an average 40 time may hurt his stock, he should still be a sure fire 1st round pick.
Another sure fire 1st round pick should he choose to declare early will be Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o. When he locates it, Te’o flies to the football, as he did early against Michigan on an option play to make a TFL, and nobody is stopping him getting there. He takes on blockers with aggression and sheds well. His speed and athleticism is impressive for a man of his size – 6-2 255 and he has no problems dropping into coverage. The only negative I saw from Te’o was his instincts – sometimes he looked a bit slow to diagnose the play and looked to be overly cautious of Denard Robinson. On one occasion he followed the running back on a zone read leaving a big hole for Robinson.
Fellow Fighting Irish defensive player, senior S Harrison Smith is a physical player at 6-2 215. He tackled well and had a few stops on Denard Robinson in space. He showed great athleticism on one play, jumping over the pile on the goal line and getting to the running back on the fumble which Robinson recovered for a touchdown, but struggled in coverage and looks to be a strong safety only.
On Michigan’s defense a prospect who impressed, while he may not make flashy plays was DT Mike Martin. He isn’t the biggest at 6-1, 305 but he plays with good leverage to get underneath blockers pads and not get forced back. Stout at the point of attack, he was in on several runs for no gain and was quick off the ball on one play to penetrate and make a TFL in the backfield. He held his own when double teamed and by taking up blockers, frees up linebackers to make plays. What lets him down is his pass rushing ability – he was blocked too easily on passing plays, making him a 2 down player only but looks to be a solid nose tackle prospect.
Despite Martin’s presence, Notre Dame RB Cierre Wood was still allowed to gain 134 yards on the ground. While he looked elusive with good speed, he also possesses power and gained yards after contact. He made good cuts against Michigan and waited for a hole to open before making his cut and bursting through. While he didn’t catch a ball he looked good out of the backfield last week and the junior looks to be a decent all round back.
Last week I got to watch the nation’s top center Michael Brewster of Ohio State and this week’s game gave me a chance to look at Michigan C David Molk. At 285 lbs, Molk needs to add some weight as he was overpowered once or twice but his lack of weight is also what makes him a decent prospect. His has outstanding mobility and looked very comfortable pulling on plays when Denard Robinson rolled out as well as using his quickness to get downfield and block on the Vincent Smith touchdown. If Molk can add some weight and strength without losing his mobility he should be a solid mid-late round prospect.