Notre Dame Could Have Historic 2025 NFL Draft

Notre Dame has a rich history of producing NFL Draft picks. The most draft picks Notre Dame has produced in a single year since the NFL Draft moved to just seven rounds in 1994 was eight back in 2014. With a loaded roster – especially on the defensive side of the ball – the Fighting Irish are poised to challenge that total in 2025 after having seven players selected in the 2024 NFL draft a couple of weeks ago. Obviously, a lot can change between now and then, but it looks like, at a minimum, the Irish will equal its 2024 with a great chance to exceed it.

Currently, six players feel like locks to be selected, assuming they stay healthy and continue on their current trajectories.

Story Highlights

  • Promising Prospects: Notre Dame’s 2025 draft includes six key players, notably potential first-round picks Benjamin Morrison and Xavier Watts.
  • Defensive Strength: Rylie Mills and Howard Cross must convert attributes and overcome size concerns, respectively, for higher draft spots.
  • Offensive Standouts: Mitchell Evans’ and Riley Leonard’s draft stock depends on standout performances and testing numbers this season.
  • Additional Talent: Kris Mitchell, Beaux Collins, Jack Kiser, and RJ Oben could enhance Notre Dame’s overall draft success.

Benjamin Morrison, CB

Much like Joe Alt last year, Morrison heads into this season with Notre Dame fans knowing he is almost certainly just on loan from the NFL at this point. Morrison is one of, if not the best, cornerbacks in college football, and if he continues on his current trajectory, he will also likely be a first-round pick like Joe Alt was a couple of weeks ago.

Rylie Mills, DT

Mills is one of the more interesting potential draft picks for Notre Dame in 2025. He has all of the measurables that NFL teams want in a defensive lineman and even made Bruce Feldman’s “Freak List” in 2023. His performance, however, hasn’t always matched those measurables. He had 2.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss in 2023, to go with 47 overall tackles. Solid output, but not something that will get his name called early. That said, Mills has all the tools to be that kind of player if he takes a big step forward in 2024.

Mitchell Evans, TE

Evans is already appearing in the first round of early mock drafts heading into the season after his breakout campaign in 2023. Evans caught 29 passes for 422 yards with a touchdown before missing the final five games of the year, including the bowl game. How Notre Dame spreads the ball around with all their new weapons could determine how high Evans goes. As could his testing numbers. Michael Mayer fell to the second round because his speed numbers scared scouts. Evans isn’t going to set the world on fire in that department, either.

Howard Cross, DT

Another Notre Dame player who has gotten some first-round projections already is All-American defensive lineman Howard Cross. Of all the Irish players getting first-round buzz early, Cross has the biggest uphill battle because of his size. Cross was a beast for Notre Dame in 2023 and more than earned all his post-season honors, but he is listed at 6-1, 285 lbs. That just so happens to be the exact height and weight that future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald checked in at the NFL Combine a decade ago. Pitt’s Calijah Kancey checked in at 6-1, 281 lbs a year ago and got picked in the first round as well. That said, not all teams will take a chance on an interior lineman with that kind of size. It only takes one team, though, and if Cross has another season like he did in 2023, he’ll have that chance.

Xavier Watts, S

Next to Morrison, Watts is likely the first-round pick from Notre Dame in 2025. The 2023 unanimous All-American and Bronko Nagurski Award Winner will be hard-pressed to top what he did a year ago, but anything close will have him on the first-round radar. The only thing that could hold him back is his position. The NFL doesn’t place a premium on safeties. None were selected in the first round in 2024, and the first wasn’t selected until #47 overall. Only one was selected in the first two rounds combined in 2023. Watts will once again be one of the best players in his position and likely will be the best safety in the 2025 draft, but only three safeties have been selected in the first round in the last five drafts combined – all of which came in 2022 including Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton.

Riley Leonard, QB

Another very intriguing draft prospect for Notre Dame is quarterback Riley Leonard. Like Sam Hartamn a year ago, he partially transferred to Notre Dame to enhance his draft stock. An ankle injury limited him this spring, but he’s still in line to start the season opener. There was some buzz surrounding Riley before the 2023 season that he had first-round talent. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had him ranked #28 overall in his 2024 draft rankings before the 2023 season. Bleacher Report also has Leonard going 10th overall in their first mock draft for 2025. A lot will have to go right for Leonard to make his way into the first round, though.

While it’s true Hartman was not selected in the draft, Leonard has considerably more draft hype than Hartman did at the same time last year. There was a reason Hartman came to Notre Dame for what was a sixth year of college ball rather than entering the 2023 NFL Draft.

Other Potential Prospects

  • Kris Mitchell, WR – If he has anywhere close to his production at Florida International with Notre Dame this year, he’ll hear his name called during next year’s draft.
  • Beaux Collins, WR – It’ll be interesting to see what role Collins carves out this year in the revamped Notre Dame receiving corps, but the raw talent is there for Collins to play his way into the draft.
  • Jack Kiser, LB—Kiser is likely to get drafted next year, especially if he improves by playing his more natural WILL position this year, as I think he will. However, Kiser won’t wow athletically, so a mid to late-round projection seems likely.
  • Jayden Harrison, WR—Even if Harrison doesn’t post big receiving totals, his speed and ability as a return man could earn him a late-round selection alone.
  • RJ Oben, DE—If Oben has a season similar to Javontsae Jean-Baptiste’s after he transferred to Notre Dame in 2023, Oben is very likely to hear his name called during the draft, just like JJB did.
  • Tosh Baker, OT—It is not even a given that Baker is the opening-day starter for the Irish at RT, so this is very much a projection right now. However, if he does start and plays well, starting-caliber OTs are a premium in the NFL.
  • Jordan Clark, S – The Arizona State transfer has NFL bloodlines, and the nickel position has been getting more of a premium placed on it than in the past. Thomas Harper excelled at times for Notre Dame as the nickel and didn’t get drafted, so Clark likely needs to step forward to be picked next year.

That’s seven more players who feel “draftable” right now. If just two of the seven get selected, Notre Dame will equal their current record for most picks in a single draft. I would say that Kiser, Oben, and at least one of the wide receivers are also a good bet to be selected.

Other potential players could get on the NFL radar with huge breakout seasons, but those are hard to predict. For instance, if Jadarian Price ends up having a huge campaign, he could have a decision to make. A lot has to happen for that even to be a consideration. Jaylen Sneed could pop on the draft radar if his freakish athleticism finally leads to consistent impact and production, too. Neither has been a full-time starter for the Irish, however, so the chances of either seem remote now. If either had the season that led to them having to make an NFL decision after the season, though, that would likely mean very good things for the 2024 Notre Dame football season.

You may also like


  1. Notre Dame had 7 players drafted

    Joe Alt
    Blake Fisher
    Marist Liufau
    Cam Hart
    Audic Estime
    JD Bertrand
    Javonte’s Jean-Babtiste

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button