Notre Dame did not have a single player drafted in the first round of last night’s NFL Draft, but that shouldn’t have been too surprising since none were projected as first-round locks. Tonight, however, should be a different story. With rounds two and three taking place, there could be as many as five Notre Dame players who will hear their name called.
I think Kmet will be the first player off the board for Notre Dame tonight. When I profiled Kmet for the draft earlier this week, my prediction was that the Patriots would trade back into the 2nd round (they did not have a 2nd round pick but traded back last night) and select Kmet. After their trade last night, they choose 37th overall, and they make a ton of sense for Kmet.
They need a tight end, and if they were going to take a quarterback, they probably would have stayed put at 23rd overall and not traded back. The Bears also need a tight end and are sitting at 43rd overall right now. I don’t think Kmet lasts past 43rd.
No tight ends were selected last night, and I still expect Kmet to be the first one off the board tonight.
There was not the major run on wide receivers last night that everyone expected, but six receivers still went off the board. We have already seen the differences that NFL teams have in their evaluations of the second tier of receivers, as evidenced by my Eagles surprisingly selecting Jalen Reagor 21st overall ahead of Justin Jefferson, who most felt was the consensus 4th best receiver in the draft.
Right now, I am holding out hope that the Eagles select Claypool 53rd overall, but don’t trust them to make any smart decisions when it comes to drafting wide receivers at this point. Green Bay surprisingly took a quarterback at the end of the 1st round last night, but Aaron Rodgers could still use more weapons around him now. They make a lot of sense at the end of the 2nd round if he is still there.
The last Notre Dame player I think gets selected in the second tonight. NFL teams love speed and are willing to take chances on players with high ceilings. Okwara is just that kind of player. There wasn’t a huge rush on EDGE rushers last night, but I feel like that is coming tonight. Once the run starts, there will be a team that takes a chance on Okwara and hopes that they get the player he can be versus the player that didn’t progress as much in 2019 as most Notre Dame fans would have hoped.
Atlanta at 47th makes sense for Okwara. They have a defensive-minded head coach and a significant need for an edge rusher. Baltimore at 55th would be a fascinating destination since Okwara could thrive as an OLB in their defensive system.
Troy Pride probably would have been a second-round pick had he either run a better 40 time at the Combine or if he had the chance to display his track speed at a Pro Day. Unfortunately, Pro Days were canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak. His 40 time was still in the 4.4 range, but some expected him to have a chance for a sub 4.3 run. Most defensive backs’ times were slower than expected though leading some to believe there were issues with the timing on that day of the Combine.
There are still holes in Pride’s game, but he is a fast corner who doesn’t give up big plays. That is a coveted skillset in the NFL. I think he’ll end up getting selected in the third round tonight, but wouldn’t be surprised if he was drafted earlier.
The last Notre Dame player who could get selected tonight is the player with perhaps the highest floor of any draft-eligible player in this year’s draft in Khalid Kareem. He doesn’t have the ceiling of Okwara, who could develop into an elite edge rusher in the NFL, but he also is a much safer pick.
We also learned that Kareem played hurt at the end of the year but didn’t miss a game. That type of commitment and dedication to a team will be looked at very favorably by NFL teams.
Kareem is the kind of player who gets selected in the third round and goes on to have like an 8 or 10 year career as a steady starter who maybe never develops into a Pro Bowler, but who is a capable NFL starter and outstanding teammate and locker room presence.
My Eagles can make me feel much better about last night’s selection if they end tonight with Claypool in the 2nd and Kareem in the 3rd.