As the current College Football season nears its end, coverage for the 2021 NFL Draft will begin to dominate football-related conversations before you know it.
But even with four months until the draft, which will be hosted on April 29, a handful of players on Notre Dame’s current roster are already being discussed by analysts as high selections.
The most notable name thus far is senior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, the 2020 collegiate Butkus Award winner, which is given to the nation’s best linebacker each season.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., likely the most recognizable NFL Draft analyst, released his latest 2021 Big Board this month, ranking Owusu-Koramoah as the top outside linebacker and the No. 9 overall prospect.
“With a stellar ability to find the ball and react and with the speed to cover tight ends in the passing game, Owusu-Koramoah just keeps rising in my rankings,” wrote Kiper Jr. “He’s a perfect fit for today’s NFL because he’s a three-down off-ball linebacker with sideline-to-sideline speed.”
No other current Notre Dame players are mentioned amongst Kiper’s top-25, but several are listed as top-10 prospects at their positions.
Besides Owusu-Koramoah, the only other player with the potential to be a first-round pick is fifth-year left tackle Liam Eichenberg. He’s the No. 6 overall offensive tackle in the draft, one spot behind a player Notre Dame will see on Friday in Alabama left tackle Alex Leatherwood.
One other Notre Dame offensive lineman also made the cut: left guard Aaron Banks. Kiper rates him as the No. 5 offensive guard in the 2021 draft class (That is, assuming he forgoes his final year of eligibility in 2021).
Rounding out the offensive side of the ball is fifth-year quarterback Ian Book, the No. 9 signal-caller on Kiper’s Big Board. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is No. 1 and Alabama’s Mac Jones is No. 4. Kiper projects that each of his top-five quarterbacks will be selected in the first round, which could bode well for Book and make him one of the best available players at his position in the later rounds.
In addition to Owusu-Koramoah, two other defensive prospects are receiving some buzz ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft in fifth-year defensive ends Ade Ogundeji and Daelin Hayes. Ogundeji is rate as the No. 5 overall player at his position, while Hayes is a few spots behind at No. 10.
A few of the other current Irish players with the potential to be selected in the upcoming draft are right tackle Robert Hainsey, right guard Tommy Kraemer, wide receivers Javon McKinley and Ben Skowronek and cornerback Nick McCloud.
Former Notre Dame Football Players In The NFL: Week 16 Recap
• Josh Adams (Played at Notre Dame from 2015-17), RB, New York Jets: Played special teams and recorded one tackle in the 2-13 Jets’ 23-16 win over the Cleveland Browns … Has 18 carries for 110 yards, a touchdown and two tackles in seven games played this season.
• Alex Bars (2014-18), OL, Chicago Bears: Started for the seventh game in a row in the 8-7 Bears’ 41-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Cole Kmet played 65/72 snaps (90%) yesterday. In a blowout win, only three players – Kindle Vildor, Sam Mustipher & Alex Bars – played every single offensive or defensive snap.
— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) December 28, 2020
• Asmar Bilal (2015-19), LB, Los Angeles Chargers: Was waived by the Chargers two weeks ago … Recently worked out with the Green Bay Packers.
• Miles Boykin (2015-18), WR, Baltimore Ravens: Hauled in one catch for 13 yards in the 10-5 Ravens’ 27-13 victory against the New York Giants … Has 18 receptions for 223 yards and two touchdowns this season.
• Chase Claypool (2016-19), WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Snagged four catches for 54 yards in the 12-3 Steelers’ 28-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts … On the season, he has 57 catches for 772 yards and eight touchdowns, 10 carries for 16 yards and two scores, and five special teams tackles … Became the first wide receiver in the Super Bowl era to score 10 touchdowns in his first 10 NFL games.
• Sheldon Day (2012-15), DL, Free Agent: Waived by the Colts a month ago … Spent the start of the season on injured reserve and had just two tackles and one pass defended this season … Recently tried out for the Cleveland Browns.
• Tyler Eifert (2009-12), TE, Jacksonville Jaguars: Recorded two catches for 17 yards in the 1-14 Jaguars’ 41-17 loss to the Bears … Through 15 games, he has 35 catches for 339 yards and two touchdowns.
• Matthias Farley (2011-15), DB, New York Jets: Registered five tackles (half for loss) and two passes defended in the 2-13 Jets’ 23-16 win over the Cleveland Browns … Has recorded 21 stops, half a tackle for a loss, two passes defended and a quarterback hit through 15 games.
The Jets announced their team awards today:
✈️MVP: S Marcus Maye
✈️Most courageous player: TE Ryan Griffin
✈️Community service: S Matthias Farley
✈️Good guy: DL Foley Fatukasi
✈️”Rookie who acts like a pro”: WR Denzel Mims
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) December 24, 2020
• Will Fuller V (2013-15), WR, Houston Texans: Did not play in the 4-11 Texans’ 37-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals … Suspended four weeks ago for six games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy … Has 53 grabs for 879 yards and eight touchdowns.
• Alohi Gilman (2017-19), S, Los Angeles Chargers: Recorded one tackle in the 6-9 Chargers’ 19-16 win over the Denver Broncos … Has four tackles on the season.
• J.J. Jansen (2004-07), LS, Carolina Panthers: Played special teams in the 5-10 Panthers’ 20-13 win to the Washington Football Team … Has one tackle in 15 games this season.
• Bennett Jackson Jr. (2009-13), DB, New York Jets: Placed on injured reserve and did not play in the 2-13 Jets’ 23-16 win over the Browns … On the season, has one tackle on special teams.
• Khalid Kareem (2016-19), DE, Cincinnati Bengals: Played defense and special teams in the 4-10-1 Bengals’ 37-31 win over the Texans … Has recorded 18 tackles (one for loss), a sack and a quarterback hit through 15 games.
• DeShone Kizer (2014-16), QB, Tennessee Titans: Signed to the Titans’ practice squad three weeks ago and did not play in their 40-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers … Was cut by the Raiders on Sept. 30 … Has not thrown a pass in the NFL since 2018.
• Cole Kmet (2017-19), TE, Chicago Bears: Recorded two catches for 18 yards and one carry for a loss of three yards in the 8-7 Bears’ 41-17 win over the Jaguars … On the season, he has 21 catches for 202 yards and two touchdowns and one carry for a loss of three yards.
• Julian Love (2015-18), DB, New York Giants: Recorded one tackle in the 5-10 Giants’ 27-13 loss to the Ravens … Through 15 games, he has 57 tackles (one for loss), two passes defended and one interception.
Cole Luke (2013-16), DB, Washington Football Team: Played special teams in the 6-9 Washington Football Team’s 20-13 loss to the Panthers … Has one tackle in four games this season.
• Nick Martin (2011-15), OL, Houston Texans: Started at center in the 4-11 Texans’ 37-31 loss to the Bengals.
• Zack Martin (2009-13), OL, Dallas Cowboys: Out with a calf injury but may return if the Cowboys make the playoffs.
• Mike McGlinchey (2013-17), OL, San Francisco 49ers: Started at right tackle in 6-9 San Francisco’s 20-12 road win over the to the Arizona Cardinals.
• Sam Mustipher (2014-18), OL, Chicago Bears: Started at center for the fifth game in a row in the 8-7 Bears’ 41-17 win over the Jaguars.
• Quenton Nelson (2014-17), OL, Indianapolis Colts: Started in the 10-5 Colts’ 28-24 loss to the Steelers.
• Julian Okwara (2016-19), DE, Detroit Lions: Returned from the injured reserve list and recorded two tackles (one for loss) in the 5-10 Lions’ 47-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
• Romeo Okwara (2012-15), DE, Detroit Lions: Recorded two tackles and a sack in the 5-10 Lions’ 47-7 loss to the Buccaneers … Through 15 contests, has 42 tackles (12 for loss), nine sacks, 17 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and one pass defended.
• Troy Pride Jr. (2016-19), CB, Carolina Panthers: Was inactive with a hip injury for the 5-10 Panthers’ 20-13 win over the Washington Football Team … On the season, he has 42 tackles (1.5 for loss) and two passes defended.
• C.J. Prosise (2012-15), RB, Houston Texans: Did not play due to a knee injury in the 4-11 Texans’ 37-31 loss to the Bengals … In 10 games played, has 10 carries for 19 yards and five receptions for 19 yards and a score.
• Theo Riddick (2009-12), RB, Las Vegas Raiders: Was inactive for the 7-8 Raiders’ 26-25 loss to the Miami Dolphins … On the season, has six carries for 14 yards and one catch for three yards.
• Isaac Rochell (2013-16), DE, Los Angeles Chargers: Registered four tackles in the 6-9 Chargers’ 19-16 win against the Broncos … Has 26 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a pass defended through 15 contests.
• Kyle Rudolph (2008-10), TE, Minnesota Vikings: Did not play for the third game in a row due to a foot injury in the 6-9 Vikings’ 52-33 loss to the New Orleans Saints … Snapped a 93-game streak of consecutive contests played two weeks ago … On the season, has 29 receptions for 326 yards and a touchdown.
• Harrison Smith (2007-11), S, Minnesota Vikings: Registered eight tackles in the 6-9 Vikings’ 52-33 loss to the Saints … Through 15 games, he has 80 tackles (four for loss), nine passes defended, four quarterback hits and four interceptions (tied for fifth in NFL).
• Jaylon Smith (2013-15), LB, Dallas Cowboys: Led contest with 11 stops, a fumble recovery and a quarterback hit in the 6-9 Cowboys’ 37-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles … On the season, he has 144 tackles (third in the NFL), six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, four passes defended, a forced fumble and three quarterback hits.
• Durham Smythe (2013-17), TE, Miami Dolphins: Snagged two receptions for six yards in the 10-5 Dolphins’ 26-25 win over the Raiders … Has 23 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games played.
• Equanimeous St. Brown (2015-17), WR, Green Bay Packers: Hauled in one catch for 21 yards and his first career touchdown in the 12-3 Packers’ 40-14 win over the Titans … Has seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown, one carry for seven yards and one tackle on special teams in nine games this season.
• Ronnie Stanley (2012-15), OL, Baltimore Ravens: After signing a five-year, $98.75 million contract extension on Oct. 30, he suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
• Golden Tate (2007-09), WR, New York Giants: Was inactive due to a calf injury in the 5-10 Giants’ 27-13 loss to the Ravens … On the season, he has 35 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns … Also has thrown one pass for 18 yards, plus recorded one tackle.
• Jerry Tillery (2015-18), DL, Los Angeles Chargers: Recorded quarterback hit in the 6-9 Chargers’ 19-16 win over the Broncos … Through 15 contests, has 27 total stops, 4.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, 11 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and two passes defended.
• Drue Tranquill (2014-18), LB, Los Angeles Chargers: Broke his ankle in week one and is out indefinitely … Has one tackle this season.
DE Uchenna Nwosu (knee) wasn’t practicing today for #Chargers. Did not see TE Hunter Henry (illness) out there. LB Drue Tranquill, who is on IR, was off to the side doing some stretching. Walkthrough today with no helmets, so tough to tell on WR Keenan Allen (hamstring).
— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) December 24, 2020
• Stephon Tuitt (2011-13), DL, Pittsburgh Steelers: Recorded two tackles (one for loss), a sack, a pass defended and two quarterback hits in the 12-3 Steelers’ 28-24 win over the Colts … Has 43 tackles (12 for loss), 10 sacks, two forced fumbles and 25 quarterback hits through 14 games played.
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