NFL draft prep: Pinstripe Bowl prospects

NFL draft prep: Pinstripe Bowl prospects
December 28, 2013, 9:30 am
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Stephon Tuitt and Notre Dame will take on Brandon Coleman and Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl at 12 p.m. on Saturday. (USA Today Images)

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Rutgers vs. Notre Dame (12 p.m., ESPN)

Brandon Coleman - WR, Rutgers, No. 17
Coleman, a junior, follows Cincinnati Bengal Mohamed Sanu as the next great Rutgers receiver. There are few wideouts in the game who can match Coleman's size (6-6/220) and strength. He has used these attributes well in the past, scoring 10 TDs in 2012, but Coleman missed the spring practices with a knee injury, and spotty QB play hindered his production in 2013. Coleman only had 32 catches for 473 yards this past season, scoring a mere three TDs. He is hardly a finished product, relying on his great size rather than route running and awareness. Coleman has already declared for the NFL draft but he may be have been best off remaining in school and showing teams improved health and football skills. As it stands now, I see Coleman coming off the board somewhere in the late second or early third round.

Watch: Coleman highlights

Stephon Tuitt - DE, Notre Dame, No. 7
Tuitt, also a junior, is physically everything 3-4 defenses look for in a 5-technique DE. He's got the size (6-5/303) and strength to be a potentially dominating player against the run. Tuitt has shown the ability to control blockers, set edges, and use his quick feet to take good angles to the ball carrier. He's not much of a pass rush threat beyond a bull rush, but he still managed 12 sacks as a sophomore and six as a junior. Tuitt will be a solid pro if he decides to come out this year, but 3-4 ends are rarely taken in the Top 15. He should be off the board by the end of the first or early second round.

Watch: Tuitt vs. USC 2013

Zack Martin - OT, Notre Dame, No. 70
The redshirt senior captain of the Fighting Irish, who is now taking graduate classes, has been their starting LT since 2010. However, Martin's position in the pros will probably be inside as his arm length is not ideal for the outside. As a tackle, Martin (6-4/308) shows excellent feet to mirror pass rushers, as well as a strong base to anchor. He struggles getting wide against good speed rushers though. Put into a phone booth as an OG, Martin's strong punch and good feet will serve him well. Will be someone to watch for in the second round.

Watch: Martin vs. Alabama BCS Championship game 2013

Others to Watch (on the sideline)
Unfortunately, two of Notre Dame's top prospects - DT Louis Nix III and OG Chris Watt - will miss the game because of injuries. Nix III had a bit of a disappointing season before he tore his meniscus, but his size (6-2/345) and quickness will still probably land him in the first round. Watt, a three-year starter, hurt his MCL against Stanford, but will not need surgery. He should be off the board somewhere in the third to fourth round.