The Pinstripe Bowl is played in New York Yankees stadium which really presents a unique viewing experience. Unfortunately, it also produces a poorly groomed football field. This game had footing problems last year and that was the story once again this year. The Notre Dame and Rutgers skill players and linemen were slipping all over the field from start to finish. A game that was close going into the half with Notre Dame leading by only three, was then dominated in the second half with the Irish coming away with the 29-16 victory.
Notre Dame had a few NFL Draft prospects in this game, with a couple big names, but there was one prospect who just jumped off the tape.
Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame
Martin made his school record fifty-second start in this game and played huge. A left tackle (LT) for Notre Dame some NFL Draft people have him on their board as an offensive guard. After the game that I just watched him play makes me wonder why they would do that? He was easily the best player on the field all afternoon. I mean the player of the game went to him, an offensive lineman! When do you ever see that unless it was complete domination.
What I liked: What didn't I like?
Very strong, good seal blocks on runs.
Keeps feet parallel, uses hands well and holds position strong.
ND ran behind him a lot with success. Moved feet well, looked natural when pulling and then blows up linebackers.
Shuffles well when speed rusher tries to get corner.
Took defenders completely out of play on multiple occasions. Drove a linebacker back about nine yards on one play, took another six yards in the opposite direction of the run, and the defensive ends trying to get the corner, forget about it. He took them and pushed them about eight yards upfield. No one even put a finger on the quarterback.
What I didn't like:
Me. Personally. Nothing, there was nothing that I saw that I didn't like. However, I know that his 32" arm length may make NFL teams question his tackle position? But as I said before that performance I saw was dominant.
Stock Report: Up
An overwhelmingly impressive performance in this game and another chance to show his skills again in the Senior Bowl, his name should start climbing those boards even more.
Draft Day Projection: 1st-2nd round
That is the current projection on nfldraftscout.com, there is no way that once the evaluation process is through this kid even sniffs the second round. First rounder all the way, plenty of teams in the market for offensive lineman.
Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame
Stephon Tuitt (6'6" 312lbs) is a highly-touted defensive lineman in this years NFL draft. After finishing with 18.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss over the past two seasons you can see why. Unfortunately in this game all the good stops there.
What I liked: Not a lot
I really tried to think of something to put here but I couldn't that is how unimpressed I was from his performance in this game. Mr. Tuitt I know you are huge and I'm, well, not, but you got to show me more than what I just watched.
What I didn't like: Okay, here we go
I know it’s just one game but he looked slow, sluggish to me. Almost disinterested at times.
Lost his cool after a play when not enough happened to incite it. But it was probably the most exciting thing he did all game.
When he saw a double team staring him down, looked like he didn't even want to try and fight through it.
Missed a few tackles and was absolutely ran through by the Rutgers running back. 6'6" 312 and a RB is running through you?
Stock Report: Down
This game did absolutely nothing for me in terms of his draft value. He did finish with 1.5 sacks which came on the last Rutgers possession of the game where the QB was holding the ball longer to look down field. You have to play the whole game not the last 2:08 of it, was not enough for me to change my thoughts.
Draft Day Projection: First round
Currently being projected to go in the first round of this years draft. If this hold up, I will say he will be one of the bigger busts in this year's field. I do dig the facemask though.
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Coleman stands at 6'6" 220lbs and has been clocked at a 4.48 40-yard dash. He came into this year after undergoing an off-season ACL surgery and finished with only 34 receptions for 538 yards and 4 touchdowns, including the bowl game. Those stats are not pretty, but in the NFL draft, college stats don't mean everything.
What I liked:
Takes big long strides and gains speed quickly. Beat everyone down the sideline on a go route early in the game to bring in a fifty-one yard reception. Two plays later ran a nice post route to back corner of end-zone for the touchdown. (Got both feet down.)
Great size/speed combo.
What I didn't like:
The before mentioned catches in the game were the only two that he had all game, silent after that.
Didn't run the crispest of routes. (Granted the field had bad footing.)
Once ball was in the air, didn't fight to hard to get to it. Happened on a couple passes, maybe could have finished with more than two receptions.
Stock Report: Neutral
While the game was a disappointment for the most part, he did show play-making ability on a couple occasions. Many know what he is right now as he isn't really thought of being a high draft pick.
Draft Day Projection: Third round
Really good size/speed combo that could definitely turn some heads at the Underwear Olympics (combine) and move up boards a bit but I think third round is right where a team will take a risk on him.
ND CB Bennett Jackson (6'0") was given the challenge of guarding Brandon Coleman (6'6") and aside from those two early receptions, kept him quiet the rest of the game. Jackson made a great play when he crashed down hard on Coleman who curled in front of him to deflect pass in air which led to INT. ND WR T.J. Jones didn't have the most impressive of games by his standards but did show versatility as he lined up in the backfield often. Finishing with four rushes with one of them going for a touchdown and a second that would have been if he didn't slip. ND TE Troy Niklas had 4 receptions for 76 yards and is draft eligible but has not yet declared. Niklas received a second-round evaluation but seems like he will decide to return one last year to try and improve upon his stock.