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Let's Talk About Notre Dame's First Round NFL Draft Picks

The NFL has drafted many Notre Dame players in the first round--who are the best and worst picks?

James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is this week and while Notre Dame won't have anyone taken on Thursday there have been plenty of other Irish players who had their name called in the 1st round. Here is a ranking of every pick.

*Does not include 1st round picks in the AFL or other leagues.

62. RB Creighton Miller, 3rd pick in 1944 (Brooklyn Tigers)

Never played professionally due to high blood pressure--not kidding. Later helped form the NFL Players Assocation in 1956.

61. RB Bill Shakespeare, 3rd pick in 1936 (Pittsburgh Steelers)

The first ever draft pick for Notre Dame in the NFL's first draft. Like many players of the era, decided to pursue a career in business where the money was much more lucrative than the start up professional league.

60. QB Angelo Bertelli, 1st pick in 1944 (Boston Yanks)

Notre Dame's first player picked 1st overall in the NFL Draft, Bertelli was an active duty Marine in the Pacific when the Yanks made this decision. Signed with the Los Angeles Dons from the AAFC in 1946 and then two years with the Chicago Rockets in the same league. Knee injuries forced his retirement. He never played in the NFL.

59. QB Frank Dancewicz, 1st pick in 1946 (Boston Yanks)

Made one start in each of his first two seasons but never blossomed into a starter. Finished with 29 picks in 3 years and retired after 1948 when the franchise moved to New York to become the Bulldogs.

58. QB Bob Williams, 2nd pick in 1951 (Chicago Bears)

Played just 3 seasons with the Bears, starting briefly in his second year. Finished with just 160 pass attempts and 10 touchdowns.

57. FB Niel Worden, 9th pick in 1954 (Philadelphia Eagles)

Played with the Eagles in 1954 and 1957, in addition to a stint in the CFL in 1959 but that's the extent of his professional career. Finished with 261 yards and 1 career score.

56. RB Joe Heap, 8th pick in 1955 (New York Giants)

Played primarily as a kick/punt returner as a rookie before entering the Air Force and never returning to the NFL again.

55. RB Emil Sitko, 10th pick in 1946 (Los Angeles Rams)

Drafted coming out of WWII but stayed at Notre Dame for 4 years. Signed with San Francisco in 1950 where he played for one season before finishing his career for 2 years with the Chicago Cardinals. A knee injury forced his retirement at 29 after totaling 636 career rushing yards.

54. DE Kevin Hardy, 7th pick in 1968 (New Orleans Saints)

Played with 3 separate teams in 4 seasons over a 5-year period. Finished with 11 starts over his career but was never an impact player, retiring at 27 years old.

53. WR Jim Seymour, 10th pick in 1969 (Los Angeles Rams)

Suffered a hamstring injury during a senior all-star game and didn't play in 1969. He was traded to Chicago and was never the player from college catching 21 passes and 5 touchdowns. Retired after playing one year with the Chicago Fire of the WFL in 1974.

52. RB Vagas Ferguson, 25th pick in 1980 (New England Patriots)

Struggled in a starter's role for his first two seasons with the Patriots, and retired after the '83 season. Finished with just 5 touchdowns for his career.

51. QB Ralph Guglielmi, 4th pick in 1955 (Washington Redskins)

The guy for whom the current Notre Dame practice facility is named after was supposed to be the future for the Redskins. But, started 21 games through 4 years winning just 4 times before being traded to St. Louis. Retired after the '63 season with 24 touchdowns and 52 interceptions.

50. C Frank Szymanski, 6th pick in 1945 (Detroit Lions)

A pretty mediocre career saw him stay in Detroit for 3 seasons before being traded to the Eagles where he'd win the 1948 NFL Championship. Spent his last season with the Bears and retired after 1949.

49. QB Brady Quinn, 22nd pick in 2007 (Cleveland Browns)

Started 20 games over a 4-year span while throwing just 12 touchdowns. Kind of sort of retired but may hang on a roster or practice squad for another year.

48. QB George Izo, 2nd pick in 1960 (Chicago Cardinals)

Dazzling athlete who gutted through an injury riddled career in South Bend. Stayed in the NFL for 7 years but re-injured his knee early in his rookie year and remained a backup with just 12 career touchdowns.

47. TE Derek Brown, 14th pick in 1992 (New York Giants)

Played with 4 teams over a 7-year career. Made 33 career starts, most of which came with a little revival with the 1996-97 Jaguars. Finished with just 43 career receptions and 1 touchdown.

46. QB Rick Mirer, 2nd pick in 1993 (Seattle Seahawks)


Rick Mirer with Seattle (Getty Images)

Runner-up in '93 Rookie of the Year, setting several first-year QB records. All down hill from there. Started 68 career games but threw just 50 touchdowns and flamed out by the late 90's.

45. TE Ken MacAfee, 7th pick in 1978 (San Francisco 49ers)

Started for his first two seasons with the Niners, hauling in 46 receptions for 471 yards and 5 scores. After being asked to move to guard in 1980 promptly left the NFL to become a dentist.

44. DB Luther Bradley, 11th pick in 1978 (Detroit Lions)

Had a successful 2.5 seasons with Detroit (8 interceptions) before a knee injury basically ended his NFL career. Eventually moved to the USFL and would end as the league's all-time interceptions leader.

43. TE Tyler Eifert, 21st pick in 2013 (Cincinnati Bengals)

Following a promising rookie season, he broke his elbow in the first game of 2014 missing the entire season. A few more productive seasons will move him up this list.

42. RB Johnny Lattner, 7th pick in 1954 (Pittsburgh Steelers)

The Heisman winner played just one season in the NFL, totaling over 1,000 all-purpose yards and making the Pro Bowl as a returner. In 1955 he entered the Air Force and would injure his knee while playing football there thus ending any chance he'd return to the NFL.

41. DT Steve Niehaus, 2nd pick in 1976 (Seattle Seahawks)

The first ever pick for the Seahawks organization was named NFC Rookie of the Year after notching 9.5 sacks. Several knee injuries devastated his career. Played in 25 games over the next three seasons, with only 6 starts, and retired following the 1979 season.

40. DB Clarence Ellis, 15th pick in 1972 (Atlanta Falcons)

Started every game for his first three years in Atlanta compiling 8 interceptions as a free safety. Briefly traded to the Denver Broncos in 1975 but retired from the NFL in order to take a position with IBM.

39. DE John Yonaker, 9th pick in 1945 (Philadelphia Eagles)

Opted to sign with the Cleveland Browns of the AAFC and won 4 straight league championships. Finished his career playing one year each with the New York Yanks, Montreal Allouettes, and Washington Redskins before retiring back to Cleveland and working in the steel industry.

38. LB Bob Crable, 23rd pick in 1982 (New York Jets)

Carved out a nice 6 year career, all with the Jets but didn't blossom into a star. Made 43 starts and retired at the age of 28.

37. DT Mike Kadish, 25th pick in 1972 (Miami Dolphins)

Spent his rookie season on the Dolphins' practice squad while recovering from a concussion. Traded to Buffalo in 1973 where he'd play for 9 seasons as a jumbo-sized nose tackle, making a respectable 80 career starts.

36. TE Irv Smith, 20th pick in 1993 (New Orleans Saints)


Irv Smith with New Orleans (All Bello, Allsport)

A nice but short career he caught 183 passes and 15 touchdowns over 7 seasons but never lived up to the production and talent he displayed in college.

35. QB Frank Tripucka, 9th pick in 1949 (Philadelphia Eagles)

Traded to the Lions during his rookie year, and then played for the Cardinals in 1950-52 (traded to Dallas late in '52) before embarking on a 7-year stint in the CFL. Returned to the United States in 1960 and would start for 3+ seasons with the Denver Broncos in the AFL. Threw an astonishing 124 picks in NFL/AFL play.

34. C Jerry Groom, 6th pick in 1951 (Chicago Cardinals)

A quality player for 5 years with the Cardinals, he earned a Pro-Bowl bid in his second-to-last season in Chicago but retired from the game in 1956.

33. DE Eric Dorsey, 19th pick in 1986 (New York Giants)

Won 2 Super Bowls with the Giants and made a respectable 58 starts on some fearsome defenses. Never a star, several injuries slowed down his career after a few seasons. A deteriorating hip forced his retirement after 7 years in New York.

32. TE Tony Hunter, 12th pick in 1983 (Buffalo Bills)

A really productive young career was cut short due to a knee injury. Spend two seasons in Buffalo and two more in Los Angeles with the Rams totaling 134 receptions and 9 touchdowns. Retired after the 1986 season.

31. DE Walt Patulski, 1st pick in 1972 (Buffalo Bills)

The last Notre Dame player to be the top pick in the draft, he led the Bills in sacks as a rookie and totaled 16 sacks during his first three seasons. He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, played for one season, and retired due to a knee injury.

30. WR Michael Floyd, 13th pick in 2012 (Arizona Cardinals)

A quality rookie season has preceded two years of starting with Arizona. Suffering from a lack of quarterback play but has almost 2,500 yards in his young career plus 13 touchdowns.

29. OT Luke Petitgout, 19th pick in 1999 (New York Giants)

Moved into a starting role with the Giants during his rookie year where he'd stay for the next 7 seasons. Played one short season with the Bucs in 2007 before retiring. Finished with 110 career starts.

28. OT Andy Heck, 15th pick in 1989 (Seattle Seahawks)

A nice long if unspectacular career that spanned 12 seasons with Seattle, Chicago, and Washington. Finished his career with 164 starts in 186 games played.

27. S Harrison Smith, 29th pick in 2012 (Minnesota Vikings)

Had an all-rookie debut in 2012 before missing half of 2013 with injury. Established himself as one of the better safeties in the league with a nice bounce back 2014 season. Started 39 of 40 games played and has totaled 10 interceptions so far in his career.

26. DT Mike McCoy, 2nd pick in 1970 (Green Bay Packers)

Made 97 career starts over an 11-year career, the first 7 seasons in Green Bay. Led the Packers in sacks in 1973 and 1976.

25. OT Aaron Taylor, 16th pick in 1994 (Green Bay Packers)

Fought through injuries for most of his career but still started 75 games in 5 seasons. Played in two Super Bowls, winning a championship with the Packers in 1996.

24. C Jeff Faine, 21st pick in 2003 (Cleveland Browns)

A good but not great career that saw him start 124 games over 10 seasons with 4 teams. Made the Pro Bowl as an alternate in 2007.

23. DB Jeff Burris, 27th pick in 1994 (Buffalo Bills)

Mostly a punt returner as a rookie, he blossomed into a starting corner for nearly a decade with the Bills, Colts, and Bengals. Finished his career with 19 interceptions, 453 tackles, and over 1,100 punt return yards.

22. DB Tom Carter, 17th pick in 1993 (Washington Redskins)

Fairly strong start to his career saw him pick off 18 passes through his first 4 seasons in Washington. Traded to Chicago in 1997 and played in the NFL for another 5 years but slowly declined. Finished with 27 career interceptions and 331 tackles.

21. TE Monty Stickles, 11th pick in 1960 (San Francisco 49ers)

One of the best tight ends of his era, played for 8 seasons in San Francisco and 1 in New Orleans before retiring at 30 years old. Finished his career with a respectable 222 receptions, 3,199 yards, and 16 touchdowns.

20. DE Renaldo Wynn, 21st pick in 1997 (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Quite a long career that saw him play in nearly 200 games while making 128 starts. Was a starting end with decent production for nearly a decade with the Jaguars and Redskins. Finished his career with 27 sacks.

19. OT Art Hunter, 3rd pick in 1954 (Green Bay Packers)

After his rookie season didn't play in 1955 and was traded to Cleveland. Spent the rest of his career at center making the Pro Bowl in 1959 and 2nd team All-NFL team in 1960. Played for a total of four teams over 11 seasons.

18. DT Mike Fanning, 9th pick in 1975 (Los Angeles Rams)

Picked up 42.5 sacks over his career, making the all-rookie team in 1975. Played in the 1979 Super Bowl and spent 8 seasons with the Rams before being traded to Detroit for one season and Seattle for his last season in 1984.

17. FB Nick Pietrosante, 6th pick in 1959 (Detroit Lions)

Spent 7 seasons with the Lions making the Pro Bowl in 1960 and 1961. Traded to Cleveland before the 1966 season and spent two more years with the Browns before retiring. Finished with 4,026 career rushing yards.

16. WR Jack Snow, 8th pick in 1965 (Minnesota Vikings)

Traded to the Rams before his rookie year, he would play his entire career in Los Angeles and accumulate 340 receptions, 6,012 yards, and 45 touchdowns. Played for 11 seasons and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1967.

15. DE Ross Browner, 8th pick in 1978 (Cincinnati Bengals)

Spent his first 9 seasons with the Bengals, the first 4 prior to the NFL officially counting sacks. Racked up 30.5 sacks from 1982-86 before being traded to Green Bay for his last season.

14. RB Greg Bell, 26th pick in 1984 (Buffalo Bills)

Played well for the Bills early in his career making the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Slowed down by injuries, he was traded to the Rams in 1987 where he'd experience two renaissance seasons, leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns in both 1988 and 1989. Retired with almost 5,000 career rushing yards.

13. OT Frank Varrichione, 6th pick in 1955 (Pittsburgh Steelers)

A dominant tackle during his era. Played 6 seasons in Pittsburgh making the Pro Bowl as a rookie in addition to 1957, 1958, and 1960. Spent his last 5 seasons with the Rams adding another Pro Bowl nomination in 1962.

12. OT Zack Martin, 16th pick in 2014 (Dallas Cowboys)

He's played only one season so far but it was a dandy. Named 1st team All-Pro and earned a Pro Bowl invite. Projecting his ranking here a bit, he's likely to earn a few more Pro Bowls over his career.

11. OG Bill Fischer, 10th pick in 1949 (Chicago Cardinals)

A short 5-year career saw him make 3 straight Pro Bowls from 1950 to 1952.

10. QB Johnny Lujack, 4th pick in 1946 (Chicago Bears)

A brief but spectacular career and another player drafted out of World War II but played out his eligibility at ND before turning to the NFL. Played defensive back as a rookie and intercepted 8 passes. Switched to quarterback his final three seasons, making first team All-Pro in 1950 and 2 Pro Bowls. At one time held the records for most passing touchdowns in a game, most passing yards in a game, and most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season. Retired in 1951 at the age of 26.

9. DB Todd Lyght, 5th pick in 1991 (Los Angeles Rams)

The current Irish DB coach spent 12 seasons in the NFL, the first 10 all with the Rams. Made the Pro Bowl in 1999 and won a Super Bowl in the same year. Finished his career with 37 interceptions.

8. TE Leon Hart, 1st pick in 1950 (Detroit Lions)

Played all 8 seasons with the Lions. Won 3 NFL Championships and was named first team All-Pro in his second season. Finished his career with 174 receptions and 26 touchdowns.

7. DT Bryant Young, 7th pick in 1994 (San Francisco 49ers)

A long and illustrious career as he spent all 14 seasons with the Niners. Made 4 Pro Bowls and was named first team All-Pro in 1996. Racked up 510 tackles and 89.5 sacks prior to retiring at age 35.

6. OT George Kunz, 2nd pick in 1969 (Atlanta Falcons)

Spent the first half of his career with the Falcons then the second half with the Colts. During that time was awarded 8 Pro Bowls and was named first team All-Pro for the 1975 season.

5. QB Paul Hornung, 1st pick in 1957 (Green Bay Packers)

Playing primarily running back, he was one of the most versatile players in NFL History. Set the NFL record for points in a season that lasted until 2006. Won the 1961 MVP and was named to the first team All-Pro and Pro Bowl twice. Won three NFL Championships and 1 Super Bowl with Green Bay.

4. WR Tim Brown, 6th pick in 1988 (Los Angeles Raiders)


Tim Brown in Oakland (Getty Images)

Played 17 years in the NFL, all but the last with the Raiders. His 9 seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards came consecutively from 1993 to 2001. Made the Pro Bowl 9 times. Totaled over 3,000 punt return yardage over his career. Currently sits 6th all-time in receiving yardage, 5th in receptions, and 7th in receiving touchdowns.

3. LB George Connor, 5th pick in 1946 (New York Giants)

Drafted out of WWII from Holy Cross but transferred to Notre Dame and played 2 more seasons in college before signing with the Bears. Played just 8 seasons but was named first team All-Pro for half of those years. Forced to retire in 1955 due to a knee injury.

2. RB Jerome Bettis, 10th pick in 1993 (Los Angeles Rams)

Played 3 seasons with the Rams before being traded to the Steelers where he'd play for another 10 years. Rushed for at least 1,000 yards in 8 out of his first 9 seasons. Made 6 Pro Bowls and was named first team All-Pro in 1993 and 1996. He won the 2005 Super Bowl and then retired. Currently ranks all-time 6th in rushing yards and tied for 10th in rushing touchdowns.

1. DT Alan Page, 15th pick in 1967 (Minnesota Vikings)

A stellar 15 year career that saw him play the first 12.5 with the Vikings before finishing up in Chicago. Member of the famous "Purple People Eaters." Played in 4 Super Bowls and made the Pro Bowl every year from 1968 through 1976. Started a ridiculous 215 out of 218 games played and was first team All-Pro 6 times during his career. Won the 1971 MVP--one of three players to ever win the award while not playing quarterback or running back.