As we kick off our Notre Dame NFL Draft prospect articles today, what better way to begin than by talking about the winningest quarterback in team history?
Ian Book walks away from Notre Dame after a historic run in South Bend. In 45 games, he threw for just under 8,900 yards in addition to 72 touchdowns and just 20 interceptions. Book will also leave South Bend with an impressive 30-5 record, with a perfect 15-0 record at home.
Despite the numbers on paper, Book lacks the height to make him a day-one pick. Some also say Book’s poor decision-making and arm accuracy are reasons he is a day-three pick. Well, does this look like someone with terrible arm accuracy?
All jokes aside, Book is no Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields. Thinking back on some of the bigger Notre Dame games over the years (Georgia, Michigan, Clemson 2018), Book just seemed off. A key turnover in the Georgia game cost Notre Dame a chance to win. That Michigan game is one the Irish faithful will never speak of again. Let’s be honest, Clemson’s 2018 defense was unbelievable, so take that game as you will. All things considered, why doesn’t Book get the credit he deserves for winning?
Let’s take a look at a few specific draft-pertinent figures. Ian Book is listed at 6-foot-0.
Baker Mayfield is listed at 6-foot-1, only an inch taller than Book. Yet, Book posted better numbers at his pro day than Mayfield did in his combine workout. Sure, this is just a comparison, and by no means am I insinuating that Ian Book is Baker Mayfield, because he’s not. However, Book’s traits are similar to the former #1 overall pick.
One thing is certain: Book possesses outstanding pocket presence. He knows when plays are collapsing around him and is able to use his feet to make plays.
Kirk Herbstreit says it best, “He’s gotta try and create.”
It seems as though we heard that fairly often over the last four years, but Book has been able to make it happen. While getting chased from behind, Book has the awareness to flip it to his receiver (almost Madden-esque) and gain positive yardage.
In the next highlight, I am almost 100% confident that this play would have resulted in an interception or Notre Dame facing a fourth-down scenario. Instead, Book uses his legs to force #22 to come up before fitting this pass into a tight window for a touchdown.
Next, let’s take a look at Book’s ability to use his legs.
Grit. That’s what defines this touchdown run for Book against Syracuse. He made a man miss and nearly got his head taken off, but still managed to find the end zone. That 4.5 40-yard dash time and the fact that Book ran for nine touchdowns (116 carries, 485 yards, 4.2 yards per carry) will certainly draw some interest among NFL circles.
Humor aside, the tweet above gives you an rough idea of Book’s elusive scrambling abilities.
Another thing to like about Book is his ability to hit the deep target in stride.
I was at this game and let me tell you, that ball floated ever so perfectly through the air as if it were a movie scene. The play seemingly went in slow motion until the catch, then it was just “see ya later”. Off the play action, a speedy target in like Braden Lenzy beats his man and Book lofts one right to the fingertips and in for six. Seeing this ability on display is a trait that NFL GM’s can look at and say, “He is a guy that can make plays for us.”
But there’s more where that came from. Who could forget this play? It marked another moment in which time seemingly stopped for a couple seconds.
As previously alluded to, Book won’t be a quarterback who comes in and turns an NFL team around in one season. However, if placed in the right system, he could potentially turn into a Matt Ryan or Baker Mayfield type.
Book’s mobility will help him land a spot, especially considering RPO offenses are so prevalent in the league right now.
Overall, Ian Book is a quarterback who spent four years at the University of Notre Dame and played in several big games. Most importantly, he’s a football guy. He has that Cali swag to him, you ride with him no matter what and the guys at Notre Dame did that.
To put a local twist on things, the Chicago Bears reportedly spoke with Book after Notre Dame’s pro day. As much as I would hate Matt Nagy for probably ruining him the way he ruined my guy, Mitchell Trubisky, I wouldn’t hate this move as a Bears fan.
Here’s a scorching hot take: Andy Dalton won’t be the guy in Chicago. The Bears have a failed track record at drafting quarterbacks in the first round, however, Ryan Pace has an odd knack for finding mid-round diamonds. When it comes to Book, the Bears already have two of his former linemen and a tight end lined up on offense already.
Looking further into Book’s potential suitors, Colts’ head coach Frank Reich and Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin were also in attendance at Notre Dame’s pro day. I don’t foresee Book being the guy to sit behind Carson Wentz because of how fragile he is, but the Steelers will be looking to replace Ben Roethlisberger soon.
As a die-hard Notre Dame fan, I flat-out love Ian Book, man. All the 300 for 3’s. My Grandpa’s final jersey is #12. Book made an impact on the Notre Dame community on and off the field. He got the attention of NFL scouts, he won a lot of games, but he made me his biggest fan. His desire to win, his heart, his character.. all of it. He got knocked down a lot during his time in South Bend, but he never let that get him down. That’s the type of experience that will propel him to be a successful leader in the league.