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Last updated: Fri. Mar. 21, 2014 - 02:46 pm EDT

Notre Dame Pro Day notebook: Leaner Nix loose; Jackson eyes safety

Outgoing Fighting Irish players aim to impress

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SOUTH BEND – Always in a jovial mood, defensive lineman Louis Nix III was laid-back and entertaining after his workout at Notre Dame's Pro Day on Thursday in the Loftus Sports Center.

With scouts for every team in the NFL on hand for the workout, Nix showed he is at or nearing 100 percent after arthroscopic knee surgery that ended his season prematurely last November.

Nix also showed off his leaner frame that he showcased at the NFL Combine. He is still sitting at around 330 pounds, close to 20 pounds less than his playing weight for the Fighting Irish.

“I am feeling great. It doesn't feel like I got hurt,” Nix said. “I lost weight, so I feel like that helped out a little bit.”

He also got the opportunity to work opposite of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who lined up against Nix in some footwork drills as a part of the workout.

“It wasn't intimidating,” Nix said about working opposite Tomlin. “I just wanted to look at his eyes and show him I am ready and could be on his team if he wanted me to.”

Nix appeared ready Thursday. He lowered his 40-yard dash time from 5.42 seconds at the NFL Combine to 5.36. Not an eye-popping number, but a significant one in a drill where every hundredth of a second counts.

He kept it loose despite the pressure of trying to up his draft stock. When asked what was next, he was quick to respond with wit.

“I'm going to Five Guys … no I'm just kidding,” Nix said.

Jackson ready if position change comes

Cornerback Bennett Jackson worked for a bit Thursday before tweaking a hamstring and sitting out the drills portion of Pro Day. Afterward he spoke about some feedback he has heard from NFL teams and a potential position change to safety.

“Last time I played safety was probably Pop Warner,” Jackson said. “But I feel like I can catch onto it quick. I actually feel like I would be a better safety than corner.”

Jackson went on to explain that the footwork at safety fits his skill set better than corner, but he also believes he can play at his natural position at the next level.

“I just think I'd be able to push myself a little further (at safety),” Jackson said. “I can still play corner as well. If a team wanted to move me to safety, I'd be OK with that.”

He raised some eyebrows with his speed Thursday, notching a 40 time of 4.40.

“I feel like I turned a lot of heads,” Jackson said.

Martin displays versatility

Offensive tackle Zach Martin was put through the ringer so to speak on Thursday as NFL scouts attempted to see which position he best fit at the next level.

The answer may be that he can project anywhere along the offensive line as he enters the league.

“It is kind of double sided,” Martin said. “I can't wait to find out where I will end up playing (regarding a team), but I can't wait to see what position I am going to play too. Versatility has only helped me, but it will be interesting to see which team takes me and where they play me.”

He showcased plenty of skills Thursday, even working on snapping the ball from the center position. Teams have discussed playing tackle at the next level but also potentially moving inside to guard.

“It is about 50-50 where I will end up,” said Martin, who projects as a mid- to late first-rounder at this point.

Whirlwind year for Eifert

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert reminisced earlier this week about his Pro Day just a year ago at Notre Dame and how long ago it feels.

“It feels like it has been forever,” Eifert said. “I was talking to some of the guys (recently) about that and how it has all gone so fast.”

The Bishop Dwenger product impressed at both the Combine and Pro Day and was taken by the Bengals 21st overall in last year's draft.

He backed that up by catching 39 balls for 445 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his rookie season.

But it feels like just yesterday he was trying to convince NFL teams that he was worth a draft pick inside the Loftus Sports Center.

jkenny@news-sentinel.com


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