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Strong Notre Dame Presence Set to Shine at NFL Combine

NFL Combine

Notre Dame football will have a strong presence at this week’s 2024 NFL Combine, which is taking place at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis. Eight former Fighting Irish players will be in attendance for the pre-draft event, which runs through Sunday, March 3. The eight players represent nearly the number of invitees that Notre Dame has had at the combine over the past two years combined. Michigan tops all programs this year with 18 of the 321 invited players.

Following is a brief snapshot of a few of the top Notre Dame players participating in workouts for NFL coaches and scouts this week:

Sam Hartman

After struggling mightily during the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, Sam Hartman faces a critical week. He completed just 7 of 25 passes at the Senior Bowl, accumulating only 69 yards. He also threw an interception in the game. Hartman, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest, is one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football history. With 15,656 career passing yards, Hartman is fifth all-time behind Case Keenum, Timmy Chang, Landry Jones, and Graham Harrell. He threw 134 passing touchdowns in his prolific collegiate career, ranking fourth all-time behind Keenum, Harrell, and Kellen Moore.

Despite his career numbers, Hartman experienced an up-and-down season in 2023. He will need to step up at the combine to demonstrate his capabilities for the next level. Hartman possesses a crisp release and can rifle throws into tight spots. He has mobility and the foot speed to roll out of the pocket and extend throwing windows. Overall, he is a poised and patient signal caller.

Audric Esitme

Running back Audric Estime averaged just under six-and-a-half yards per carry last season and rushed his way into the Notre Dame record books. His single-season rushing total of 1,341 yards ranks fifth in program history. He also found the end zone 18 times. The bell cow back proved especially productive at Notre Dame Stadium. At home, he rushed for 781 yards on 126 carries with nine touchdowns. He concluded his three-year run at Notre Dame with 2,321 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns. He appeared in all 37 games during his time in the program and made 14 starts over the past two seasons.

A physical and proven running back, Estime has likely seen his draft stock rise following an exceptional 2023 season for the Irish. Estime utilizes his powerful frame to fend off direct contact from defenders. He is a forward-charging runner with balance and an aggressive running style. And he is incredibly instinctive and has eye-catching explosiveness when needed in space with the strength and discipline to get the tough yards between the tackles.

Joe Alt

Premier left tackle Joe Alt is a two-time All-American. He will be a top draft choice in the 2024 NFL Draft. A finalist for the Outland and Lombardi trophies, Alt stands at 6-foot-8 weighs 322 pounds, and owns an NFL pedigree. His father, John Alt, played tight end for two seasons at Iowa before moving to tackle and becoming a first-round draft pick in 1984. John played 13 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and an inductee into the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame.

Alt towers over other offensive tackles and he is incredibly agile. He anchored the offense led by Estime and Hartman. The Irish offense ranked 12th in the country with 5.3 yards per carry. The unit ranked 21st in the nation with just 1.3 sacks allowed per game. Alt was a large part of that success for the Irish. Alt has a tall, lean frame, and great length. As a former tight end himself, Alt has explosiveness and an instant lateral burst that promises to serve him well in the NFL.

Emerging Stars at the NFL Combine

The additional Notre Dame representatives at the NFL Combine include right tackle Blake Fisher; linebackers JD Bertrand and Marist Liufau; cornerback Cam Hart; and defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste. Bertrand is a two-time Irish captain. He led the Irish in tackles the past three seasons, and he recorded three tackles in the Senior Bowl. Hart flashed at the Senior Bowl, making three tackles. The lockdown cornerback concluded his 2023 season with 21 tackles, three tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. Jean-Baptiste, a graduate transfer from Ohio State, played well in limited snaps at the Senior Bowl.

The NFL Combine provides a pivotal opportunity for these former Notre Dame standouts. With scouts and coaches closely observing their every move, these athletes will try to prove that they possess the potential to make a significant impact at the next level. The NFL Combine marks the end of their successful collegiate careers. But with any luck, the NFL Combine will serve as a launching pad for these Notre Dame stars to realize their NFL aspirations.

 

NFL Combine
Photo courtesy: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

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