Zeke Motta Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for Notre Dame S

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IApril 17, 2013

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Safety Zeke Motta #17 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish tackles wide receiver Devin Gardner #12 of the Michigan Wolverines in the first quarter at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Zeke Motta

Atlanta Falcons

Seventh Round: 244th Pick

When you look at them side by side, Zeke Motta looks a whole lot like 2012 first-round pick and former Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith. However, Motta is nowhere near the athlete Smith is and his draft stock will show that.

Motta played for parts of three seasons alongside Smith, and then took over as the leader of the secondary for the Fighting Irish in 2012 after Smith bolted for the NFL


Motta has the ideal size and frame to be an NFL safety, but his quickness is an issue.

Strengths Weaknesses

+ Great height and length 

+ Built like a prototypical NFL safety

+ Experienced, tough and durable

+ Intelligent player, good leader

- Slow straight-line speed

- Can't change direction quickly or fluidly

- Lacks ball skills on deep passes

- Not aggressive enough attacking the ball



At 6'2", 213 lbs., with long 31-and-three-eighth-inch arms, Motta is built exactly how NFL safeties need to be nowadays. However, he lacks the strength and speed that defensive backs need to cover faster receivers and bigger targets in today's NFL.

Motta clocked in at an absurdly slow 4.83 40-yard dash at the combine, and put up only 11 reps on the bench. He improved on those numbers a bit at Notre Dame's pro day, but they are still concerning to say the least.



Motta is a tough kid with good character who has never had any sorts of trouble at Notre Dame. He showed his maturity by stepping right in and playing at safety and a lot on special teams as a true freshman in 2009.



In his only year as a starter, Motta played a lot of zone coverage, and wasn't overly responsible for pass coverage. He was rarely responsible for a top target and never played as the deep man responsible for passes over the top. 



Motta really struggles in coverage. When he can get close enough to reach out and jam a receiver, he does a decent job of rerouting even the bigger receivers. If they get out of the jam, however, his slow feet make him eat dust. 

But when he is forced to play off and zone coverage, his lack of agility really haunts him. He has average instincts, but they aren't enough to overcome his stiff hips and absent burst. He often has to take conservative angles to balls and therefore never really makes any big plays.


Against the Run

Motta is a little more consistent against the run, as he can diagnose the play and sort through blockers to attack the ball. He hustles and tracks down well. He never gives up on plays, which results in more chances to get his helmet on the ball.



When Motta does get his helmet on the ball, he almost always brings the ball-carrier to the ground. But he sometimes finds himself arm tackling because he can't adjust quickly enough to a smaller, quicker ball-carrier. 

Motta isn't overly aggressive and won't take an approach where he lays out a receiver over the middle, which he could do given his frame. 


Potential NFL Role

Motta's lack of athleticism means he doesn't really have any prospects of playing safety in the NFL. He could possibly beef up and try to be a linebacker, but he seems destined for a special teams career.


Draft Projection

Sixth or seventh round