This weekend is the start of a new journey for eight former Notre Dame Fighting Irish players. Three hundred players are invited to Indianapolis for a weekend of drills, tests, interviews and detailed analysis by the NFL coaches, scouts, GMs, etc.
Of the three hundred stand outs given the opportunity to showcase their talents, former Notre Dame stars Manti Te’o, Tyler Eifert, Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick, Braxton Cave, Zeke Motta, Jamoris Slaughter, and Kapron Lewis-Moore look to make an impression on NFL teams.
Te’o and Eifert are expected to be first-round draft picks. Te’o picked up almost every award a linebacker could win last season, and his efforts on the field were highly noted. Te’o would be a great fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens or Chicago Bears, all of which need help at linebacker and all pick later in the first round.
Eifert is one of the top tight ends in what is being reported as a deep tight end class. Eifert is projected to be a first round pick as well and could be an instant starter for the right team.
Te’o and Eifert will most likely be the top two drafted, but they will not be the only ones trying to turn heads. Running backs Wood and Riddick will both be competing at the combine and both need to make impressions this weekend.
Wood is listed in the top-20 of running backs in the draft and projected to go in the fifth or six rounds. Riddick is also among the top-20 running backs, and is also projected to be drafted at around the same spot. Riddick could turn heads with his pass catching ability, and his year at receiver could be beneficial in his preparation for the NFL.
Cave is listed as one of the top five centers in this years draft and the combine will be another opportunity for him to showcase his talents. Cave had earlier taste of the interview process during his week at the Senior Bowl.
Motta is a hard-hitting safety and would be a great fit for a number of NFL teams. Motta is projected in the late rounds, but could move up with a solid performance this weekend.
The biggest questions for the former Notre Dame stars are Slaughter and Lewis-Moore. Both were highly regarded to start the seaso,n and Lewis-Moore was expected to be drafted in the fourth or fifth rounds before being injured in the BCS National Title Game. Despite the injury, Lewis-Moore was invited to the combine and will be able to meet with scouts and their teams.
Slaughter has the most to prove of any of the eight Notre Dame players. The senior strong safety was injured early in the season, and it looked as though he might get another chance to wear the blue and gold. Notre Dame applied for a medical redshirt for Slaughter and appealed the NCAA decision to deny the redshirt for Slaughter. The appeal was not overturned, and Slaughter will be moving on to the NFL.
This weekend is a great opportunity for all of the Notre Dame players to get exposure to teams, coaches, and personnel, and could be their first steps into the NFL.