2020 Slap the Sign Notre Dame Brian Kelly Era Player Draft

2020 Slap the Sign Draft(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
2020 Slap the Sign Draft(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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Jaylon Smith (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) /

Jack Leniart was awarded the first pick in the draft and started out the draft strong selection Colts offensive guard Quenton Nelson. This should come as no surprise to Irish fans, as Nelson is tied for the highest draft pick in the Kelly era at 6th overall and is already a two-time All-Pro.

Daniel Morrison was up next, and he went with another obvious, but tremendous selection drafting Cowboys offensive guard Zack Martin. Martin played offensive tackle for Notre Dame, but was selected in the first round as an offensive guard and has been one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL since entering the league.

Corbin Whitney received pick 3, and he was the first writer to pass on the offensive line, selecting Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith. Certainly, an interesting selection, as Smith is arguably the best Notre Dame player of the Brian Kelly era and was a surefire top 10 pick before his devastating knee injury in his final collegiate game. Smith was selected to his first Pro Bowl this season.

Mason Plummer had the next pick and went right back to the offensive line, drafting Ravens left tackle, Ronnie Stanley. Much like Nelson and Martin, Stanley was a dominant college offensive lineman selected in the early first round of the NFL draft and has followed that success into the league. Stanley was an All-Pro in 2019 and went the entire year without giving up a sack. He is tied with Nelson for the highest draft pick of the Kelly era.

Carlee North had the 5th pick and went with likely the most underrated superstar in the NFL, Vikings free safety Harrison Smith. Smith started his career at Notre Dame as a linebacker, but when Kelly took over he moved him to safety where he thrived. He was also a first-round selection in the NFL draft and has backed that up with a Hall of Fame-worthy start to his career.

I had the 6th pick, and after a mild debate, I ultimately decided on Steelers defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt. A second-round selection the NFL draft, when healthy Tuitt has been one of the best hybrid defensive linemen in the NFL. In 76 career games, he has 23.5 sacks and 38 tackles for loss. Unfortunately, he hasn’t played a full 16 games since his rookie season.

Sonny Martinez had pick number seven, and went with the first offensive skill player, taking Texans wide receiver Will Fuller. Another first-round NFL draft selection, the only problem with Fuller has been staying on the field because when he’s on it he’s dynamic with 16 career touchdowns in 42 games.

Connor McJunkin had the 8th and final pick of the 1st round, and I imagine he might have dealt with the most debate of us all, but ultimately decided on Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph. A second-round pick in the 2011 draft, Rudolph has been one of the more steady and durable tight ends in the league since his arrival never catching less than 39 passes and four touchdowns when playing a full 16 games.