Notre Dame Sees Six Players Drafted; Assessing NFL Team Fits

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It’s one of the most highly anticipated and viewed NFL Drafts in a very long time. Not due to this specific draft class being anything unique or special, it’s just that we’re all so starved for sports right now. No other draft has ever transpired during a period like this, where there is absolutely no sports to be consumed anywhere.

Hence we’re desperate to watch something, anything, and the NFL Draft fills that void nicely this weekend. While Notre Dame didn’t have anybody selected on the first night, they have strong representation on night two and day three. We’ll break it all down for ya, but we don’t do draft grades. That’s not legitimate in our eyes- you only grade draft picks down the line when you see how they pan out; or don’t pan out.

Tight End Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears, 43rd overall pick, Round 2

We broke this down in detail last night, over at this link. Kmet is the first Notre Dame player drafted by the Bears since 2001 (Mike Gandy, OG).

Wide Receiver Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers 49th overall, Round 2

When Miles Boykin left early after the playoff season for the NFL Draft, Claypool stepped right in as the new WR1. The British Columbia native joins Jarron Jones, Stephon Tuitt and Media Relations Officer Michael Bertsch as Notre Dame personnel to move on and join the Steelers.

When it comes to the Steel City, it feels like they almost always draft a linebacker in the first round, because it does happen quite a bit, but they don’t often take WRs this high. The last time they selected a wide out this high was 2006, meaning Pittsburgh really liked Claypool.

That bodes well, for both him and the Steel Curtain because no club is statistically better at drafting receivers. The 2019 Camping World MVP, he left South Bend seventh in school history in career receptions (150).

In 2019, he up a 66-1,037-13 slash line, with those 13 touchdowns the sixth most in a single season by any Domer.

Defensive End  Julian Okwara, Detroit Lions, 67th overall, Round 3

I was extremely surprised to see Okwara the third Fighting Irish player off the board, because I really thought he would be the first. I wasn’t anticipating any ND player getting picked in the first round, but if I had to bet on one slipping into the later half of the first it would have been Okwara.

That’s because I still think he brings the most complete next level skill set and ability of anyone on the 2019 ND roster. Julian now reunites with his brother and former Irish player Romeo Okwara in Motor City.

Cornerback Troy Pride, Carolina Panthers, 113th overall, Round 4

He entered the season rated the #8 CB in the nation by Lindy’s, stepping up to fill the void left by Julian Love who went early entry to the NFL and found a home with the New York Giants.  Pride was stellar all year long and you saw his top notch closing speed time and time again- quite notably the touchdown saving tackle he had on Malcolm Perry’s 46-yard-run during the Irish’ 52-20 win.

Carolina is a good landing spot for him because they need instant help at the position. Expect Pride to have an immediate chance to contribute.

Defensive End Khalid Kareem, Cincinnati Bengals, 147th overall, Round 5

Like Okwara, I really thought he would go much higher. The DEs were among the greatest strengths of this Fighting Irish team. The Bengals have a ton of needs, and the front four is certainly one of them. Kareem is the kind of player that is most certainly suited to a base 4-3 quite well.

Safety Alohi Gillman, L.A. Chargers, 186th overall, Round 6

Navy transfer goes to the part of the country where the U.S. Naval presence is strongest. Or at least he would have if the Chargers were still in San Diego. L.A. Chargers still sounds weird, but anyway, his best chance lies in making a presence on special teams.

He can showcase his skill set there, earn a place on the squad, and then hopefully, maybe defy the odds and become a regular fixture in the Bolts nickel packages.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TVSports IllustratedChicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.comon Twitter and his cat on Instagram.

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