Ian Book Offers A Glimpse Of His Pre-Draft Process
The Senior Bowl’s off-field activities were just as important as the practices and games to Ian Book.
With no NFL Combine and limited or nonexistent face-to-face pre-draft visits, the former Notre Dame quarterback’s week in Mobile, Ala. in late January might be his only chance before April’s draft to meet with team representatives in person.
In an unusual draft process, that time with NFL scouts, coaches and decision-makers is sacred and not available to everyone. It’s possible some players who didn’t play in the Senior Bowl don’t meet with any teams in-person.
“I just wanted to take full advantage of that,” Book said recently on The Draft Analysts Podcast. “I think 31 of the 32 teams were there. I got to meet with every single team, face-to-face. That’s huge, especially this year. If it comes down to you and the other guy, and the team has met you face-to-face, who knows what it could do.”
Book practiced and played for the National Team, coached by the Miami Dolphins’ staff. Opposing defensive backs voted him the team’s top quarterback of the three practices, over teammates Sam Ehlinger (Texas) and Feleipe Franks (Arkansas). Book started the third quarter of the game and was 5-for-11 for 48 yards and an interception on a Hail Mary throw. He led a touchdown drive in a 27-24 National win.
“They throw a whole playbook at you, and you have to learn it in a week,” Book said. “A great challenge.
“You could feel the tempo. The Dolphins staff, they’re going to treat you like professionals. You’re out here for a reason to do a certain job. One of the coaches was saying, ‘We’re not going to congratulate you for throwing the football.’ That’s what you’re supposed to do every time.”
Book began his pre-draft process shortly after Notre Dame’s Jan. 1 College Football Playoff loss to Alabama by training in Jacksonville, Fla. with his quarterback coach, Will Hewlett. In the weeks since the Senior Bowl, he has been working at Michael Johnson Performance in suburban Dallas with a few skill position players in this year’s draft. He will return to South Bend for Notre Dame’s pro day, which is set for March 31.
In the meantime, Book is throwing with LSU receiver Terrace Marshall Jr., Auburn receiver Seth Williams, Ohio State tight end Luke Farrell, Bowling Green tight end Quintin Morris, Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson and Louisiana running back Elijah Mitchell.
“Everybody is just different,” Book said. “It’s just fun to throw with a new receiver. Everyone runs their routes differently, everybody is good at different things. It’s a good challenge. It helps as a QB to throw to so many different people. These guys are the best of the best.
“They expect me to put the ball on them every single time, like they should.”
Draft analysts lauded Book’s mobility during his Senior Bowl reps — unsurprising given his penchant for playmaking outside the pocket and scrambling in his three years as Notre Dame’s starter. He ended his career second all-time among Irish quarterbacks in rushing, with 1,517 career yards and 17 touchdowns. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry, including sacks.
His emphasis in 2020, though, was to find the right balance between running because he knew he could and staying in the pocket longer to see plays through. Getting more comfortable with understanding when to go and when to hang in for another half-second would help — and did help — Notre Dame’s offense. He’s hoping 2020 improvements in that area will help his draft stock too.
“I don’t want to have to rely on it,” Book said. “There’s a fine line — and we talked about this with coach Rees last year — I want to know when it’s time to take off and run, because I can do that, or when it’s time to sit in there and go to my third, fourth, fifth read.”
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