NFL Combine workout live blog, Day 1: Tracking former Notre Dame LBs JD Bertrand and Marist Liufau, EDGE Javontae Jean-Baptiste

On3 imageby:Kyle Kelly02/29/24

ByKyleKelly

After arriving in Indianapolis for the start of the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine earlier this week, former Notre Dame players JD Bertrand, Marist Liufau and Javontae Jean-Baptiste are set to begin their workouts. 

Thursday is the first of four workout days at Lucas Oil Stadium for NFL Draft prospects. Defensive linemen and linebackers start their workouts at 3 p.m. ET. Defensive backs and tight ends are on Friday. Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers work out on Saturday. And offensive linemen wrap things up on Sunday. 

Bertrand and Liufau arrive in Indianapolis after each spending five years with the Fighting Irish. Bertrand ended his career with 267 tackles, while Liufau had 117 stops in 33 games. 

They hope to increase their stock to hear their names called during the 2024 NFL Draft. NFL.com says Bertrand is a candidate for the bottom of a roster or practice squad. Liufau projects as an average backup or special teamer.

“Team leader with above-average production who carries good lean mass on his frame,” NFL analyst Lance Zierlein wrote. “Bertrand’s stats are appealing, and he plays with a decent nose for the football, but his lack of speed and short-area quickness could be a major concern as teams project his ability to keep up with NFL skill players on the move. 

“He needs to get much better at taking on or slipping blocks and finding a way to improve his angles and positioning to become a more consistent tackler. Bertrand could get a look on Day 3, but special teams might need to be his calling card.”

Liufau: “Angular linebacker with endless energy but a level of impatience that can occasionally pull him out of positioning,” Zierlein said. “Liufau plays with good short-area burst and a willingness to step downhill and leverage his gaps. At times, he will move unnecessarily and get trapped behind a second-level blocker or lose track of where the play is headed. 

“Liufau offers third-down value as a spot dropper with good field awareness and might have enough man-cover talent to line up over big slot targets from time to time. He appears to lack the instincts to be a consistent tackle-maker as a pro but does have the qualities to potentially compete as a nickel linebacker with special teams value as a Day 3 pick.”

Jean-Baptiste worked himself into an NFL Draft prospect following his one season in South Bend. The former Ohio State Buckeye had a career-high 49 tackles in 13 games for the Irish. Like Liufau, he is also considered an average backup or special-teamer.

“After a five-year run at Ohio State with modest production, Jean-Baptiste’s Notre Dame tape has put him in position to become a developmental Day 3 draft pick,” Zierlein said. “He has good length but lacks play strength to stack and discard tackles. He’ll need to hit the weights to improve his anchor, but he has the footwork and agility to slide off of block sustain and make tackles. 

“He’s a step slow off the snap, dulling his ability to outrace tackles to the edge, but he flashes the hands and hips to become a more impactful rusher if teams rewire his rush plan. There is still a level of upside available for Jean-Baptiste.”

Blue & Gold will have live updates of Bertrand, Liufau and Jean-Baptiste’s workouts. You can follow along here. 

Live updates: Notre Dame at the NFL Combine Day 1 workouts

8:07 p.m. ET: The official 40-yard dash times for the linebackers are in. Liufau registered a 4.64 40-yard dash, which ended up 10th among 15 linebackers.

7:32 p.m. ET: Liufau’s second 40-yard dash time is 4.64 seconds. That time received a round of applause from fans in attendance.

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah complimented Liufau’s arm length before he began his run.

7:30 p.m. ET: Blue & Gold discovers a social media post of Bertrand in a walking boot at the NFL Scouting Combine. He has not competed in drills through the 40-yard dash.

7:16 p.m. ET: Liufau runs a 4.66 (unofficial) on his first attempt in the 40-yard dash.

7:16 p.m. ET: Jeremiah on Liufau: “This dude should roll here. They tell you at Notre Dame how fast he is. High, high energy. He’s the nicest kid in the world off the field, and then he kind of changes his personality when he gets on the field. He’s going to be a great special teams player at the next level.”

7:05 p.m. ET: Linebacker drills are beginning. Neither Bertrand nor Liufau recorded a vertical or broad jump.

5:53 p.m. ET: Jeremiah compliments Jean-Baptiste’s rep in the “Run the Hoop” drill.

5:44 p.m. ET: Jeremiah mentions that he cannot imagine many college players who have transferred from Ohio State to Notre Dame when discussing Jean-Baptiste. Rich Eisen mentions that Irish head coach Marcus Freeman made the transition. Freeman was a former Buckeye football player before joining the Notre Dame coaching staff in 2021.

5:31 p.m. ET: Jean-Baptiste’s 40-yard dash time officially registers as a 4.66, which ranks eighth among the 18 EDGE rushers that participated in the event. His 10-yard split was 1.65 seconds.

Penn State’s Chop Robinson had the fastest time at 4.48 seconds.

4:57 p.m. ET: Jean-Baptiste’s first 40-yard dash time is 4.66 seconds, unofficially.

4:57 p.m. ET: Jeremiah on Jean-Baptiste: “He’s supposed to test well. He plays with a lot of effort. I didn’t think he was super bendy, but I thought he was twitchy. I thought he had some real burst. … He’s a strider. He closes, like you’ll see his closing burst chasing plays. He can cover a lot of ground.”

4:53 p.m. ET: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports: Notre Dame DE Javontae Jean-Baptiste spent last night and this morning dealing with food poisoning, throwing up until 10 am. He hydrated all morning, and ate at noon after going 24 hours without food. Yet wanted to be out here testing.

3:50 p.m. ET: Jean Baptiste notches a 10-foot, 7-inch broad jump, ranking third among 19 EDGE rushers. Houston Christian University’s Jalyx Hunt’s 10-foot, 8-inch leap is first.

3:39 p.m. ET: Jean-Baptiste records a 34.5-inch vertical, which ranks ninth among 18 EDGE rushers. Ole MIss’ Cedric Johnson has the top mark at 38 inches.

3:01 p.m. ET: Defensive tackles kick off Thursday’s workouts. Notre Dame does not have any defensive tackles at the NFL Scouting Combine. Jean-Baptiste is listed a defensive end/EDGE rusher.

3 p.m. ET: Thursday’s NFL Scouting Combine workouts for defensive linemen and linebackers are set to begin.

2:30 p.m. ET: Liufau checks in at 6-2, 235 pounds. He is up 4 pounds from the 2023 season at Notre Dame. His arms were measured at 34¼ inches and his hands were 9⅞ inches. Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports reports Liufau has a 79.38-inch wingspan.

2:27 p.m. ET: Bertrand measures 6-1 and weighs 235 pounds, up two pounds from his playing weight with the Fighting Irish. He also has 30⅝-inch arms and 9¾-inch hands. Robinson reports Bertrand has a 74.88-inch wingspan.

1:57 p.m. ET: Jean-Baptiste checks in at 6-4⅝ and 239 pounds. He also had his arms measured at 33¾ inches with 10-inch hands. Robinson reports Jean-Baptiste has an 80½-inch wingspan.

Jean-Baptiste is down 21 pounds from his playing weight during the 2023 season at Notre Dame.

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