NFL Draft Profile: Jack DiNardo

Chris Johnson

Jack DiNardo played 40 games throughout his four-year career at Northwestern, compiling 14 tackles for loss and establishing himself as a leader along the Wildcats’ defensive line. As a member of the only class of NU players who can lay claim to four consecutive bowl appearances, DiNardo relishes everything that he and his fellow seniors accomplished but admitted that his final season ended in disappointment when the Wildcats fell 33-22 to Texas A & M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on December 31.

“It’s nice to be able to say that we got to four bowls,” he said. “We feel like we accomplished a lot while we were here. But we still weren’t able to win one of those bowls and break the streak, and that’s disappointing for sure.”

DiNardo wasted no time dwelling on the Wildcats’ postseason shortcomings. Knowing that NU’s pro day was less three months away, he began preparing for the most important workout of his football career.

TC Boost was his gym of choice, an esteemed training center in Northbrook, Ill. He was joined by several teammates, including Dan Persa, Brian Peters, Jeremy Ebert, Drake Dunsmore and Al Netter.

“I knew right after the season that I wanted to keep playing,” he said. “But I knew that I had to work on some things. I only took off three or four days and then I got back to work.”

As a senior, DiNardo’s playing weight hovered around 290 lbs, sufficient for the type of agile defensive tackles preferred by defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz but undersized for the NFL. He put on 10 lbs in the three months after NU’s bowl loss and weighed in at 300 lbs at the March 8 pro day. He also ran a 5.13 in the 40-yd dash and hit 25 reps on the bench press. DiNardo was satisfied with his performance, but said that the workout won’t have a large impact on the way that pro scouts evaluate him.

“Typically those things aren’t my strength,” the defensive tackle said. “I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on my game tape. I feel more comfortable with that then with scouts judging me on the way that I run around in my underwear.”

DiNardo is open to playing in any defensive scheme, but he said that he sees himself as a defensive tackle in a 4-3. In 2011, 19 NFL teams used a 4-3 scheme as their base defense, but every team uses different defensive packages depending on the situation.

“Whenever I watch NFL football, I see myself as one of those quick defensive tackles in a 4-3,” he said. “But I’ll play anywhere. I can play defensive end in a 3-4, too.”

The Hinsdale, Ill, native had his first workout with an NFL team last week, when he was joined by Persa, Peters, Ebert, Dunsmore and Netter at a local facility for a training session with Chicago Bears’ coaches.

With less than a week before draft day, DiNardo said that the nerves are starting to set in.

“I’m trying not to let myself get too nervous or anything like that,” he said. “But it’s hard. I put everything I could into this, now I’m just going to let the chips fall where they will.”

The 6-4, 300-pound defensive tackle is unsure whether or not he will hear his name called on draft day, saying that scouts have told him that he’s a “border line late-round pick.” But even if he’s not one of the 254 players selected during this week’s draft, DiNardo plans to make his impact felt at the next level.

“I’ll be hoping for the best,” he said. “But even if it doesn’t happen, it will just motivate me that much more to prove myself as an undrafted player. All I want is for one team to give me an opportunity so that I can show them what I can do.”