There are plenty of words below, so this preamble will be short. Josh, Jude, and Brendan went on the OFD Podcast and drafted their best version of a team with Notre Dame Fighting Irish players from the Brian Kelly era. It was done as a snake draft — and here are the final results.
Please vote in the polls at the bottom of the article.
I want to thank you for considering my team for best offense, best defense and best overall.
To make your determination, I’d like you to consider our objective.
First and foremost, you get “the best of” that player, with the caveat of it has to be during the Brian Kelly era. It is also not forward-looking. So, for example, you cannot take into consideration Kyle Rudolph’s output during the Charlie Weis years nor can you consider his successes with the Minnesota Vikings.
I’m going to appeal to data (spreadsheet here), because I think that’s the fairest way to judge three disparate teams. I’m guessing Joshua will appeal to emotion because, frankly, data is a loser argument for him. I can no more take Jaylon Smith out of Brian VanGorder’s defense than I can slap balls on my aunt and make her my uncle. Yes, it sucks that Smith played in a defense that didn’t maximize his skill set. But his performance is his performance.
I will also be transparent. My data-driven approach also minimizes my team’s greatest weakness: its offensive line. When data is lacking, I think subjective determinations are valid. Undoubtedly, Quenton Nelson is much better than either of my two guards. If you want to give Brendan’s team more credit for that, that makes perfect sense to me.
I broke down offense into three categories: passing, rushing and receiving. Brendan and I have the best passers. Joshua and I have very similar rushing attacks, with a slight edge to him. Brendan has the best receiving corps.
As far as total offense, I have a 3,000 yard passer, 3,100 of rushing yards and 3,500 of receiving yards. Brendan has 3,000 yards passing, 1,500 yards rushing and 4,000 yards receiving. Joshua has 1,800 yards passing, 3,100 yards rushing and 1,600 receiving.
If you follow the objective — putting the best years of those players together on a single team — it’s obvious I have the most balanced team.
If your counter-argument is, “Well, you wouldn’t be able to manage 3,100 rushing yards behind that line,” I’d remind you that you can’t prove that. And I can’t disprove that. I’d merely point out that Bars, Mustipher and Stewart were all captains. Bars and Mustipher started all games as their respective positions on the Joe Moore Award winning line in 2017. Christian Lombard started 13 games at right tackle in 2012, helping the Irish rush for at least 200 yards in seven of its games in that championship appearance year. Steve Elmer started every game for two consecutive years (2014 & 2015) and Stewart started every game during his only year with Brian Kelly. These are legit dudes.
Also: My team has plenty of weapons if for some reason our defense, led by a Heisman-runner up, puts us down 14 points. How quickly do you think Brandon Wimbush and a literally hamstrung Kyle Rudolph can erase deficits?
Statistically speaking, my defense is first in solo tackles, first in assisted tackles, first in total tackles, tied for second for tackles for loss, tied for second for sacks, first in interceptions, first in interception returned for touchdowns, first in pass break ups, tied for second in fumble recoveries and third in forced fumbles.
You could argue that everyone’s defense is statistically very similar, but my team is without any real clunkers.
While I picked the best career kicker, the “best of” is probably Joshua’s. Brendan got the best punting duo. But I’m going to guess your pick of “best overall team” won’t come down to kickers and punters as tiebreakers.
Between Brendan and Jude, they pushed out a combined 1319 words to try and sway your vote. I will not offer you any such desperate and lengthy list of nonsense.
This is my team.
These are the best version’s of each player. Pluck that player at his peak during the BK era, and that’s the player you have. This is a team created by someone with vision — and not dictated by some spreadsheet loaded down with stats. After all, if some list of stats is all we’re supposed to go by, why even draft at all? You might as well take those spreadsheets and plug them into a program and have the CPU spit out three separate teams. That’s how boring that is.
I call bullshit, because I’m a man of vision.
I chose to draft a team that would run a power-run offense. Use the T, wishbone, flexbone, Maryland Power I — or whatever. It’s a versatile group dedicated to running the ball in multiple ways with a home-run threat at 3 of the 4 spots in the backfield. It’s Paul Johnson on steroids times 100 with elite talent.
Defensively, all three of us went with a 4-3 alignment — although my team can move some pieces around to run versions of a 3-4 as well. The defensive front 7 is loaded with speed and sure tackling, and the secondary is also full of speed and solid play.
It doesn’t matter who my kicker and punter are, because they won’t need to punt the ball as they convert for first down after first down. Watch as it lulls you into one thing and then turn your head as these drag racers are streaking down the sideline for a TD — all in a blink of an eye.
I really don’t care who you vote for. This is a team of vision and destiny — not some list of names generated by a spreadsheet. I can’t allow myself to be that boring. So if this is your thing... cool. If not, well sorry not sorry.
Friends, Domers, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I have come to bury Jude and Josh, not praise them.
Certainly they will have made their various pitches, Josh likely appealing to your heart and Jude to your head. I need do neither, for I would like you to use your eyes. A roster is built starting in the trenches, and who’s roster better exemplifies this basic tenant of football? Quenton Nelson. Zack Martin. Nick Martin. Robert Hainsey. Each elite players, yes, but also they served as team captains. These players were the driving force for their respect teams and set the standard for the lines that they played on.
Does it matter which Irish running back I had selected to run behind this line? Would the productivity of Josh Adams, Dexter Williams, CJ Prosise or Cierre Wood really set itself apart behind such hog-mollies? No, any of them would have more or less been as successful as the next. I went with the only NFL running back that Brian Kelly has produced. A jack of all trades, that if I wanted, could slide to the outside and allow me to play five wide. Of all the running backs to have come and gone over the years, none of them have had the versatility and the pass catching acumen that Theo had.
At WR? Michael Floyd. Chase Claypool. Two players that will set the standard for all future Irish players in terms of body control and high pointing catches. Certainly Will Fuller is faster than either but it is not up for debate which receivers had a more consistent impact on a game. Michael Floyd’s ability to block downfield was better than any receiver we’ve seen around these parts. Claypool’s ability to simply put the team on his shoulders and win a game was never more evident than the 2019 Virginia game, when he willed that final drive into existence.
And it’s like I said, I was committed to building this roster right. The trenches.
Louis Nix III
That is a goddamn one-two, one-two knock out combination of power, speed, power, speed.
At linebacker I went with a player who displayed a pure athleticism we’ve never seen unleashed at the position under Kelly. Was Jaylon a better athlete than Wu? Of course. But Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah lead a damn good Notre Dame defense in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss. He was a heat seeking missile and if they had pulled it out in Athens, his play would have been a direct reason for it. To reign him in, I coupled the young player with two former captains in Nyles Morgan and Joe Schmidt. Morgan, is oft a forgotten player during this era, but he was certainly one of the few bright spots of the 2016 season defensively, leading the team in tackles and sacks.
My back end without question features the best safety of the last 20+ years in Notre Dame football. Harrison Smith, is not only the Irish’s best defensive player in the NFL, he also set a standard of dominant safety player that carried the Irish on for a decade. He was the only player to be a sole captain in 2011(they also did game captains), which further drives my point of bringing leadership to my roster. The leadership that Alohi Gilman displayed in the 2018 game against USC at halftime, might be the reason that team made it to the college football playoff. Who has a better duo of safeties that started for Notre Dame between 2010-2019 than me?
Oh and Kyle Brindza is a better kick than Justin Yoon. That might hurt your feelings but it’s a fact. He had 52 touchbacks in 2014 alone, which is more than Yoon had in his entire career, think that’s not a big deal? Opponents returned four kicks for touchdowns against Yoon and just one against Brindza. Brindza also doubled as a punter and he once kicked 5 field goals in baseball stadium in late December to win the Pinstripe Bowl where he was robbed of his MVP.
So go ahead. Use your eyes. Who’s roster top to bottom is better?
TIME TO VOTE!
We offer up three simple polls for you to decide how we three lunatics did in this draft. Polls close at 11:59 on 2/28.
Best/Favorite All-BK Draft Offense
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Best/Favorite All-BK Draft Defense
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Best/Favorite All-BK Drafted Team
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