Notre Dame had two players picked in the first round of the NFL Draft for the first time since 2012, but it could have been more.
It was a very big night for Notre Dame in relation to the NFL Draft- one could probably argue that it was bigger for Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller. Stanley was picked with the number six overall pick by the Baltimore Ravens while Will Fuller got snatched up by the Houston Texans with the twenty-first pick after Houston traded up to make sure they got their man.
It was all very exciting, and in some ways its validation for a fanbase, a head coach, and a program to have such elite prospects come from Notre Dame. Notre Dame still has a shot to have maybe six more draft picks (or more) before the draft ends on Sunday. Thursday night, and the first round however, is the place where bragging rights and recruiting pitches to five star kids are reserved.
This great haul was nowhere near Ohio State’s night, but that’s a different monster entirely. What could have and what most definitely would have made this night an 11 on the awesome scale of 1-10, was Jaylon Smith.
Jaylon Smith was being touted by most draft experts as the best prospect in the entire draft (pre-injury of course). So, if Smith was healthy this entire draft could have looked quite a bit different. Maybe there are some trades, and maybe some other moves would have been made, but I am certain he doesn’t get out of the top five.
That would have given Notre Dame 3 players selected in the first round and it would have been the most since they had three in 1994 and four in 1993. It would have been an amazing statement for Notre Dame and Brian Kelly to make with a stat that reaches back into the Lou Holtz era.
That’s all would’ve/could’ve and we can’t live in that world. Jaylon Smith will still get drafted (presumably before the middle of the third round) and Smith will still be handsomely rewarded with his insurance policy– but there was a missed opportunity Thursday night, and one that Fortuna decided to alter.
It was a big night for Notre Dame and the two draft picks, but it wasn’t what we had thought it would be less than six months ago.