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Notre Dame Football: Late-Round NFL Prospects

In addition to quarterback DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame will have two other representatives at the 2017 NFL Combine this week.

Defensive linemen Jarron Jones and Isaac Rochell will also participate in workouts at the NFL’s annual scouting event, which takes place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis from Feb. 28 through March 6. The NFL Network will televise the workouts daily, beginning Friday at 9 a.m.

Jones and Rochell are scheduled to do their on-field drills Sunday. Saturday, the former Irish standouts will meet with the media.

Jarron Jones excelled in 2016, recording 45 stops, 11 tackles for loss and two sacks.
Associated Press

The 6-6, 315-pound Jones had 45 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and two sacks as a fifth-year senior in 2016. That performance included a dominant game against Miami during which he had seven tackles, including six for a loss and one sack.

The 6-4, 290-pound Rochell had 55 tackles, seven tackles for loss and one sack as a senior team captain. He was Notre Dame’s lone participant in the Senior Bowl last month.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock held a media teleconference Monday afternoon in which he was asked about Notre Dame’s draft-eligible players. Here’s what Mayock had to say about Jones and Rochell.

“If Jones played every week like he did against Miami, he'd be in a completely different conversation than the reality he faces now,” Mayock said. “He was dominant against Miami. He showed length and power and quickness and everything. He dominated that game, but you don't see the consistency of his effort and production, which is going to hurt them.

“… Jones is looked at more as a 3-4 defensive end, which is called a five-technique. And his talent warrants him going higher. But he probably doesn’t go to the third, fourth, fifth round.

“People look at Isaac Rochell, and they don’t see quite as much talent, but they see a guy that comes to work every day, he's banging and working, and not as long, he's 6-3, 280,” Mayock said. “So Rochell's going to be a base 4-3 end. He probably goes on the third day, fourth or fifth round.”

Linebacker James Onwualu is projected to either be drafted in the later rounds or sign as a free agent with an NFL team.
Associated Press


Several other former Notre Dame players will have an opportunity to crack NFL rosters as well. Though they did not receive combine invitations, these players will participate in Notre Dame’s pro day March 23 at 11 a.m.

Running back Tarean Folston, cornerback Cole Luke and linebacker James Onwualu are projected to either be selected in the later rounds of April’s draft or to sign as a free agent with an NFL team.

Onwualu was Notre Dame’s third-leading tackler in 2016 with 75 stops, finishing with a team-leading 11.5 tackles for loss. He had three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He participated in the East-West Shrine Game in January.

Folston ran for 344 yards on 77 carries and finished with two touchdowns in 2016. He elected to forgo his final year of eligibility. Luke compiled 48 tackles, two interceptions and six passes defended as a senior.

“I really like Onwualu,” Mayock noted. “He doesn’t have as much talent as maybe you want, but you want to talk about a hard-working, tough kid. Assignment sound, knows what he’s doing.

“Onwualu is going to be late draftable or a free agent, but he’s going to play for special teams and he’s not going to make any mistakes mentally.

“Tarean Folston is kind of interesting to me,” Mayock added. “I don't think he’s going to get drafted. But when he first got to Notre Dame, I thought he had natural run ability. I thought he had a good feel for the run game. In his workouts, he’s got to run well and catch the football even better.”


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