Sheldon Day – Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
Experience: 2 year starter
40yd dash 5.07
3 Cone Drill: 7.44 sec
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.50 sec
Broad jump: 8’6”
Hand Size: 9 5/8”
Bench Press: 21 reps
Day began his career with the Irish as a rotational defensive end, playing in every game as a freshman and missing 2 games as a sophomore due to an injury. After starting 8 of 11 games in his sophomore season in South Bend, and missing two games his junior season due to injury, he would go on to start in every game he played in for the remainder of his career as a Golden Domer. During his junior campaign, he finished 2nd on the team in both tackles for loss and hurries. Day effectively doubled his career production as a senior, recording 15.5 of his 32 career tackles for loss and 4.0 of his career 7.5 sacks. His impressive production as a senior helped him earn a 2nd-Team All-American designation.
Played full seasons as a freshman and senior after missing 2 games in both his sophomore and junior season. Was injured during bowl game preparation but still managed to play in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. Missed time due to an injured knee as a junior but came back in time to play in the bowl game.
Against The Run – 3.5/5
Day is not tremendously bulky, but did weigh in at 291 lbs. at the combine, suggesting that despite his short stature he can still take on double-teams to plug gaps in the run game. He shows good ability to shoot gaps when needed to make plays on running backs, but lacks the physical talent to chase them to the boundary to make tackles outside his assignments. His tenacity and effort will likely make him at the very least an above-average run stuffer in the NFL, but he will likely be the player whose assignment has him taking on a double team to free a teammate up to make the tackle after a short gain or behind the line of scrimmage.
Pass Rush – 1.5/5
While Day flashes the ability to shoot gaps as mentioned above, he lacks an extra gear to be able to explode further once he has won the initial battle with an offensive lineman. Another concern is that he benched just 21 reps at the combine. This lack of strength helps explain why, despite his low leverage point and solid agility, he struggles with bullrushes or converting speed to power – at least one of which he would need to become a truly dominant pass rusher. His relatively high motor does mean he will likely contribute a few sacks a season simply from his hustle, but most of those will be of the coverage-sack variety and not anything where he simply dominates his opponent before getting to the quarterback.
Agility – 4.0/5
On tape, his first step off the snap is his most notable physical trait and this was confirmed by his performance at the combine. He scored in higher than the 75th percentile on the 3 cone drill (77th), 20 yard shuttle (76th) and the 10 yard split (88th) compared to DTs according to mockdraftable.com. These are impressive for a non-EDGE rusher which Day projects as at the next level. Unfortunately his inability to convert his initial burst into a sustained pass-rush means that he will struggle to get after the quarterback on a consistent basis.
Impact Play Ability – 1.5/5
Despite the strong agility and burst that he shows on tape and solidified at the combine, it seems unlikely that Day will ever evolve into even an average pass rusher. He is not suited to be an EDGE rusher at the next level, although I would not be shocked if he ended up receiving nominal snaps as a 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB in certain sub packages. His tireless motor might lead to a few more career fumble recoveries than an average Defensive lineman, but he is unlikely to end up on many highlight reels during his career.
Versatility – 3.5/5
If agility is his best physical attribute, then Day’s versatility is his defining on-the-field trait. He lined up all over the formation for the Irish, seeing snaps at not just DE and DT but in basically every front imaginable: inside run stuffer, gap penetrator, edge rusher. He even saw some nickel snaps from a 2 point stance. While his versatility is a huge asset to a multiple defense that requires such versatility, Day is a bit of a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ player. He profiles as a decidedly below average pass-rusher no matter where he lines up. And even as a run stopper, too often he gets blown off the line because of his underwhelming strength.
Overall – 2.8/5
Day is an intriguing depth option because he can play a variety of positions and techniques across the line of scrimmage, but his lack of elite athleticism or size means he is unlikely to be a foundation piece for any good defense. His effort and versatility allow him to be a solid rotational defensive lineman but glaring lack of pass rush ability will prevent him from ever scaring defensive coordinators or opposing offensive linemen. Solid late day 2 choice and a likely value should he slip to the 3rd day.
If drafted by the Packers:
Day’s lack of height and pass rush but above average agility and bulk make him perhaps best suited as a 3-4 DE which would make him a nice fit in Dom Capers’ odd front scheme. He lacks the pass rushing prowess to play a significant role, but with an array of good to great pass rushers already in the starting lineup such as Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Daniels, Day could be an important second-tier piece to the defensive line, especially one that is significantly thinner than last season with the sudden retirement of B.J. Raji and the suspension of Mike Pennel. Expecting even 5 sacks in his best season would likely be a stretch, but even if he plays a substantial role in the base defense as a run stopper and then comes off the field on 3rd downs he would be a value in the late 3rd round or with one of Green Bay’s 3 4th round picks.
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