There’s a lot going on this weekend for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football program — like are you even prepared for it all? For the first time since at least 2005, the Notre Dame Blue Gold spring game and the NFL Draft are on in the same weekend. I remember that spring game, and remember the boos that rained down in the stands when it was announced that the Chicago Bears took running back Cedric Benson from the Texas Longhorns with the 4th overall pick.
I’m not going to triple check that statement. If 2005 wasn’t the last time — then that’s fine. It still doesn’t change the fact that this type of weekend has been rare for at least the last 15 years. It’s a very short window where Notre Dame’s past and Notre Dame’s future can be talked about without a bunch of eyeballs rolling out of a bunch of heads.
The NFL Draft
The Irish have had an incredible 4 year year run on the football field with 43 wins, 2 playoff appearances, and 2 bowl wins. This type of success means a lot of talent has been coming out of the program and into the NFL. For the 2021 NFL Draft, I’ve seen a fair number of mock drafts that have 9 Irish players selected over the 3 day event.
The Draft gets started on Thursday night with the first round. Most are expecting only one Irish player to be selected in the first round, and that’s linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. On Friday, I’ve seen as many as three more Notre Dame players predicted to be selected in offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg, offensive guard Aaron Banks, and tight end Tommy Tremble.
Once Saturday arrives for rounds 4-7, popular Irish players that should have their name called are offensive lineman Robert Hainsey, offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer, defensive end Daelin Hayes, defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji, and quarterback Ian Book. Of course, once the 7th round has ended, undrafted free agency takes over and we expect guys like wide receiver Ben Skowronek, wide receiver Javon McKinley, cornerback Shaun Crawford, and cornerback Nick McCloud to end up somewhere.
While not top heavy in the first two rounds, the 2021 NFL Draft could have the most Notre Dame players selected since 1994 (10).
The Blue-Gold Game
Saturday at noon, Notre Dame will play in the annual spring game as they transition towards an offense without quarterback Ian Book for the first time in four years, and a brand new defensive coordinator.
As good of a run as the Irish have had over the last four years, they still fell short of the big goals by a wide margin. While many are expecting the Irish to take a step back this year with a new quarterback, and rebuilt offensive line — the goals remain the same, as do the expectations from the Irish faithful.
The media was denied in-person access to spring practices because of the COVID-19 situation, but we have seen quite a bit from the practice clips provide by Notre Dame for each practice. Still, as much as I normally warn fans to not put too much weight into the spring game, it’s going to be hard to not put this game under a microscope with so many fresh parts.
There’s a lot going on this weekend — so remember to pace yourself a bit. We’ll have everything covered here at OFD with recaps, breaking news, open threads, and more, but I also encourage you to follow the One Foot Down Twitter account as well.