We knew Notre Dame players rolled deep in the NFL ranks, but did you know we could comprise a current starting 22 with nothing but former Irish stars?
There are only a small number of college football programs that currently have enough players in the NFL to fill an entire 22-man starting lineup of offense and defense. Notre Dame is one of those programs.
Altogether, Notre Dame currently has 36 former players in the NFL. In these dog days of April — with only the NFL Draft and Spring football to keep us occupied from a football standpoint — my bored mind decided to piece together what an All-Notre Dame NFL starting 22 would look like. I was able to do it — but barely — as a couple of guys had to change positions.
I’m not sure how many games they’d win, but here is what that team would look like:
(I went with a single-back, three receiver set on offense and a 4-3 on defense)
Quarterback: DeShone Kizer, Green Bay Packers
Running Back: Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions
Tight End: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Offensive Tackle: Ronnie Stanley, Baltimore Ravens
Offensive Guard: Nick Martin, Houston Texans (moved from center)
Center: John Sullivan, Los Angeles Rams
Offensive Guard: Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys
Offensive Tackle: Ryan Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
Wide Receiver: Golden Tate, Detroit Lions
Wide Receiver: TJ Jones, Detroit Lions
Wide Receiver: Will Fuller V, Houston Texans
Defensive End: Stephon Tuitt, Pittsburgh Steelers
Defensive Tackle: Sheldon Day, San Francisco 49ers
Defensive Tackle: Louis Nix III, Jacksonville Jaguars
Defensive End: Isaac Rochell, Los Angeles Chargers
Linebacker: Jaylon Smith, Dallas Cowboys
Linebacker: Manti Te’o, New Orleans Saints
Linebacker: James Onwualu, Los Angeles Chargers
Cornerback: KeiVarae Russell, Cincinnati Bengals
Cornerback: Cole Luke, Carolina Panther
Strong Safety: Bennett Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Free Safety: Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings
And there you have it. Not too bad in some spots. A lot of questions in others.
One week from today, we’ll start the process of adding what will likely be five more former Notre Dame football players to the NFL ranks via the draft.