Sources Tell Us: Scout questions Notre Dame DL prospect's fit


NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein is constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. In this space each week, Zierlein will share some of what NFL folks are discussing in their circles.

The scoop: "I'm not sure what to do with (Notre Dame defensive lineman) Sheldon Day. He's got quickness, but there aren't many 6-foot defensive ends in the league unless they come blazing off the edge and he's not that type of player. I think he will have to gain weight and move inside as an under tackle in an even front when he gets to our league." -- AFC South scout

The skinny: Day is listed at 6-foot-2, but more than one scout has confided that he will not check in at that height unless he hits a growth spurt this season. Day has good initial quickness off the snap, but his lack of overall length (his arms measure less than 33 inches) and weight make him an unlikely fit in a 3-4 and a "tweener" in a 4-3.

Good football players find a way to get on the field and they tend to make plays, but we understand this scout's concerns regarding Day's size and we agree that added weight might be needed. It is worth noting that Day has bumped inside as a pass rusher this season and he appears to have the toughness to transition inside full-time if that is his NFL calling.

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The scoop: "After studying Michigan State, I'm surprised at how average (offensive tackle) Jack Conklin was athletically. I guess I just expected more based on his reputation. He's a good player, though. (He's a) better player than athlete, which isn't a bad thing." -- NFC area scout

The skinny: The redshirt junior is on the watch lists for both the Outland (best interior lineman) and Lombardi (best lineman) awards and is entering his third season as a full-time starter for Sparty. While Conklin might not be the most physically gifted tackle in college football, he's allowed just two sacks over the last two seasons and his ability as a run blocker helped pave the way for a strong showing by former Spartans running back (and current Chicago Bear) Jeremy Langford last season.

Conklin might be a candidate to move to the right tackle spot when he makes it into the NFL, but all I know is that Conklin is a steady, consistent performer. I ranked him sixth on my "offensive tackles to watch" list coming into this season.

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The scoop: "He's got a strong arm and they are high on him in that building, but No. 6 has looked awful so far. His vision of the field and decision making has been awful. I will be shocked if Auburn can win the SEC with him at quarterback." - NFC scout on Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson

The skinny: While those words might sound harsh, anyone who has watched Johnson's start to the 2015 campaign would have a hard time disagreeing with much of this assessment. There has been substantial hype around Johnson -- a pocket passer replacing combo quarterback Nick Marshall -- but much of it was based on just 37 passing attempts in 2014.

Johnson hasn't seen the field well and struggled badly on throws of more than 10 yards in his first two games, including an overtime win over FCS Jacksonville State. So far in 2015, Johnson is 3 of 11 with four interceptions and one touchdown on throws between 11-20 yards and he's 2 of 7 (both touchdowns) on throws of 21-plus yards. It's early, but Johnson must take care of the ball and start finding his mark in the intermediate game for Auburn to survive in the SEC West.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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