Notre Dame football: Winners & losers of the NFL Draft

Now that the NFL Draft is over, it’s time to analyze which former Notre Dame players were the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of the draft.

Now, before you comment something, obviously each of the players that Notre Dame selected in the NFL Draft is a ‘winner’. They are part of the small percentage of college football players that get to take their talents to the next level.

However, some players landed in more advantageous and that is what we are going to be looking at and discussing today.

It came as a surprise to many that no Notre Dame players were taken in the first round of the NFL draft, but you could most definitely argue that teams are getting the first-round talent with some of the Notre Dame players that came off the board in the second and third rounds.

The first former Domer off the board was tight end Cole Kmet, who was selected by his hometown Chicago Bears with the 43rd overall pick in the 2nd round. Kmet grew up a Bears fan and seeing him and his family’s reaction to him being drafted by his favorite team was something special.

In terms of a landing spot for Kmet, besides it being his favorite team and so close to home, he could not have landed in a better organization. Chicago is known for using its tight ends in the offense, and with former Bears tight end Trey Burton now with the Colts, Kmet should be at the top of the depth chart along with newly signed Jimmy Graham.

All things considered, Kmet was a first-round talent that slipped into the early second round, but he found a perfect landing spot to start his bright, young career. He is a winner.

Next off the board from Notre Dame, also in the second round, was wide receiver, Chase Claypool. Claypool was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers just six picks after Kmet, with the 49th overall pick.

Claypool has also found himself with a great organization. The Steelers are among the best in the league when it comes to drafting and developing wide receivers, and Claypool will look to reap the benefits of that. Pittsburgh runs a spread, air-raid style offense where the Canadian should get plenty of looks in his rookie season.

With Juju Smith-Schuster on the other side of the field, Claypool should have single coverage quite a bit and could form a great partnership with Smith-Schuster.

Claypool, similar to Kmet, could not ask for a better organization to play under. Claypool is a winner.

Third off the board for the Irish was former defensive end Julian Okwara. Okwara was selected by the Detriot Lions with the 67th overall pick in the 3rd round.

It was a great moment to see how excited the Okwara family was when Julian was drafted by the Lions, the same team his brother and also former Notre Dame player Romeo currently plays for, drafted him. The Okwara brothers have never gotten the chance to play alongside one another in high school or college, but now they finally get their chance with the Lions.

In terms of a landing spot for Okwara, other than his brother playing in Detriot, this was not where I would’ve liked to see him be selected. The Lions are coming off of a 3-12-1 season and play in a difficult division with the Bears, Packers, and Vikings.

Things are not looking up for Detroit at the moment, but Okwara will get playing time as a rookie and may even start. All things considered though, I would’ve liked to see him drafted to a place like San Fransisco or Kansas City where he could truly shine and become a star in the league.

Okwara is a loser of the draft.

Fourth off the board for Notre Dame in the 2020 NFL Draft was cornerback Troy Pride Jr. Pride was selected by the Carolina Panthers with the 113th overall pick in the 4th round.

One of seven defensive players drafted by Carolina, Pride is heading to a revamped team under new head coach Matt Rhule.

The former Irish corner had a 2/3 round grade but slipped down to the 4th. Pride landed in a decent spot with Carolina but will have to work for playing time. Carolina has quality corners at the moment, but Pride could be seen as a special teams weapon with his track star speed.

Overall, it’s a decent landing spot for Pride, even though he slipped into the 4th round.

Pride is a winner of the draft.

Next off the board from Notre Dame was former defensive end, Khalid Kareem. Kareem was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 147th overall pick in the 5th round.

Easily a 3rd round or better talent had it not been for his nagging injuries throughout last season, Kareem slipped down to the 5th round where the Bengals finally snatched him up. The new Bengal had 10 sacks last season for Notre Dame and was a consistent threat all season long.

Kareem finds himself in a similar situation to Julian Okwara, as he was drafted to a bad team in a tough division. He will be able to learn from defensive end Carlos Dunlap though and could find himself playing time early on if he can stay healthy.

This one is 50/50, but I will say Kareem is a loser in the draft because of the team he was drafted to.

The last player drafted from Notre Dame this year was safety, Alohi Gilman. Gilman was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers with the 186th overall pick in the 6th round.

The Chargers really seem to like drafting Notre Dame players. In Los Angeles, Gilman joins former Notre Dame players Isaac Rochell, Jerry Tillery, and Drue Tranquill, as well as new undrafted free agents Tony Jones Jr. and Donte Vaughn.

Gilman has the opportunity to learn from one of the best safeties in the NFL in Derwin James, and also could fight for playing time at the free safety position.

Expect to see the charismatic Hawaiian on special teams quite a bit for Los Angeles, with the potential for some playing time at safety if he impresses.

Next: Carolina Panthers select Troy Pride Jr.

Gilman is a winner of the draft.

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