The Notre Dame football program has not had a first-round selection in two NFL Drafts, but that should certainly end this April.
The Notre Dame football program had to hit the reset button along the offensive line this offseason, as four starters from last year began their NFL journeys. While the talent lost was monster, the only holdover, Jarrett Patterson, has the leadership skills, and experience to lead the group in a big way this fall.
Looking ahead to the 2022 NFL Draft, there is a lot of buzz about safety Kyle Hamilton, the best player on the defensive side of the ball. Like Patterson, he is going to be expected to man a leadership role on this team, and any success the Irish have will be tied to him in 2021.
In a recent mock draft over at Pro Football Network, Joe Broback laid out his first round, and while Hamilton was one of the first ten picks off the board, he was joined by a teammate later in the first round. That player was Patterson, one of the best centers in the country, as well as one of the better inside offensive linemen eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft.
The 2021 season is a big one for Patterson, the lone remaining starter from last year’s dominant offensive line, and someone who has the talent to be the first interior offensive lineman off the board this April.
Notre Dame football to lean on Patterson in 2021
Patterson may be the only returning starter along the offensive line, but that does not mean it is devoid of talent. In fact, true freshman left tackle Blake Fisher looks like the real deal, and as is the case with Patterson, offensive guard Cain Madden is a preseason All-American in his first season in South Bend.
Josh Lugg and Zeke Correll round out the starting offensive line, and both bring a ton of versatility, as some key experience within this offense. The other four starters are solid and could be elite, but in 2021, this is Patterson’s group, much like it was Liam Eichenberg’s last season.
The Notre Dame Football program lost a lot of talent up front along the offensive line, but newcomer Cain Madden helps lessen the blow in 2021.
With a brand new quarterback and questions at wide receiver, it will be imperative that the offensive line continue to play at an elite level. At Notre Dame, offensive linemen are produced at a high level every year, and when all is said and done, Patterson could be the first Irish offensive lineman taken in the first round since Quenton Nelson in the 2018 NFL Draft.
That is some great company to be in.