Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 8 of 63 JUNE/JULY 2017 9 UNDER THE DOME Although not overly fast or strong, St. Brown's all-around talent and productivity — assuming he matches his breakout 2016 season — could cause him to pass up his senior season at Notre Dame and enter the NFL after just three seasons. "He looks the part. He's a good looking athlete," Wright said. "He had a terrific [2016] season. It's hard to say [a projection] with wide receivers just because it's so dependent on the underclassmen usually, but he's certainly going to play at the next level. "I would say he's got early round potential, top- three-round potential when he comes out." NICK WATKINS, CB Watkins was poised for a big 2016 season, but various injuries derailed those hopes and sidelined him for the entire year. The DeSoto, Texas, native has the size (6-1, 203 pounds) that NFL teams covet in modern, versatile cornerbacks, which he hopes to show off during his senior season at Notre Dame. Watkins is eligible for a fifth season in 2018 if he chooses to return, though his injury history, combined with NFL opportunities, have that in question. NYLES MORGAN, LB The most productive player on Notre Dame's porous 2016 defense, Morgan registered 94 total tackles and four sacks in 12 starts. Slightly undersized at 6-1 and 238 pounds, the native of Crete, Ill., could do even more at Notre Dame under new defensive coordinator Mike Elko. Morgan has rarely been asked to attack the line of scrimmage with the Irish, but will likely do more of that in 2017, which will make him even more attractive to NFL teams. "He really interests me," Wright said. "He's al- ready been productive [at Mike linebacker], but he could go to another level this year in that new defense. He's got a chance to be a relatively early pick at his position. "The problem is inside linebackers aren't the most valuable position in the draft. Positional value is going to affect him, and I don't know if he's going to work out particularly well. I know he's a good athlete, but I don't know that he's going to be a workout warrior." JOSH ADAMS, RB The Warrington, Pa., product has been a work- horse over his first two seasons at Notre Dame, tallying 1,768 yards and 11 touchdowns on 275 carries. Adams was named to the Doak Walker Award watch list prior to the 2016 season, and will likely be there again this August. The big (6-2, 220 pounds), strong and physical Adams is a between- the-tackles runner, and could translate well to the NFL. Adams might be looking to capitalize on his football talents, particularly with the NFL lifespan of running backs. During his junior year of high school, Adams tore his ACL, further illustrating the fickle nature of the sport. It's not out of the ques- tion the rusher forgoes his senior season. "Almost 20 percent of the underclassmen crop [in last year's draft] were running backs, and as a result we see some talented guys get pushed down the board," Wright said. "Is [Adams] in that Leonard Fournette category where you say he's a first-round pick? No, I don't think he's that type of guy, but he's a good-looking running back. "A little bit high cut, but if he can stay healthy … that's the $64,000 question with him. I know he had a knee injury in high school. I hate to put grades, but I would estimate rounds three to five whenever he comes out." BRANDON WIMBUSH, QB Would Wimbush declare for the NFL after just three seasons — and one year as a starter — at Notre Dame? He possesses the physical traits that NFL teams look for, and in new offensive coordina- tor Chip Long's scheme Wimbush could flourish. He would have an extremely small sample size, just 14 games as a starter at most, but the NFL has shown it will take a chance on inexperienced quarterbacks. The Chicago Bears selected North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky No. 2 overall after only 13 college starts. "Very much an unknown. The only thing I re- member of him is when he played a couple years ago he had a really strong arm," Wright said. "He's got a really good situation, he's got a lot of talent around him on the offensive line and skill positions. "Regardless of what he does next year, I don't see him being an early entrant candidate." JERRY TILLERY, DT While it's difficult to envision Tillery as an early round pick after what he's shown his first two seasons at Notre Dame, there's no denying his physical abilities. At 6-6, 308 pounds with good feet and strength, Tillery could put himself on the NFL's radar with a standout junior season. "He's a guy that looks the part. He's got that big frame and he can do a lot for you," Wright said. "You can play him as a nose, you can play him as a three technique, you can maybe play him as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. He's got talent. "It's similar in some ways to Jarron Jones in that it's not based on talent. It's going to be based on intangibles. How much does he want it? Tillery has a lot to prove, but he probably has as much upside potential on that defense as anybody draft-wise." ✦ Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery has the size (6-6, 308 pounds) and strength to put himself on the NFL's radar with a standout junior season. PHOTO BY RICK KIMBALL

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