Even though the NFL Draft is now over and there are no more picks to be turned in to the league, teams will start combing the country for more players to sign as undrafted free agents (UDFA) and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are sure to have a handful of former players signed in this way.
UDFAs have a steep hill to climb, but they will get their shot with whatever team they sign with over the next few days. In some ways, going the UDFA route is better than being drafted in the last two rounds — at least when it comes to finding a good fit.
Of the six Irish undrafted last year, Chris Finke is the only one not on a NFL roster. Asmar Bilal (Raiders), Jalen Elliott (Lions), Jamir Jones (Steelers), Tony Jones Jr. (Saints) and Donte Vaughn (Chargers) are still hanging around. Jamir’s brother, Jarron, was undrafted in 2017 and is also with the Steelers.
This post will serve as a tracker for all of those former Notre Dame players that sign, so you can keep checking back.
DB SHAUN CRAWFORD - Las Vegas Raiders
First reported by Tom Loy.
What more can be said about this former team captain, except to say he’s never, ever going to give up? We had tremendously high hopes for this freshman back in 2015 (!) before he tore his ACL during summer camp. The next year, he came out guns blazing against Texas only to suffer a torn Achilles versus Nevada. There was a second torn ACL in 2018, the year he made an amazing goal line stop and strip that completely changed the trajectory of the Michigan State game.
Crawford played wherever he was needed — safety, cornerback, nickel — and did so with great aplomb.
The Raiders haven’t drafted a Notre Dame player since 1991, but they did sign Te’von Coney as an undrafted free agent in 2019. Coney is no longer with the team, but they do have Asmar Bilal, Nick Martin, James Onwualu and Theo Riddick.
OG TOMMY KRAEMER - Detroit Lions
The Notre Dame UDFA Tracker:— Matt Freeman (@mattfreemanISD) May 2, 2021
TE Brock Wright - Detroit
CB Nick McCloud - Buffalo
DB Shaun Crawford - Las Vegas
OL Tommy Kraemer - Detroit pic.twitter.com/6YApbGgQ6L
Kraemer played in 42 games during his four year career, starting 38. The Elder High School grad was a five-star prospect and considered the top Ohio player.
Kramer was first team All-ACC last year, but had surgery on his right shoulder in the offseason. He missed six games in the 2019 season after spraining his medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his knee.
Dane Brugler’s analysis: “Kramer has the competitive grit and upper-body power to win in a phone booth, but he is overly reactive and too much of a waist-bender when asked to operate in space.”
The Lions also employ the Okwara brothers (Romeo and Julian), Elliott and Alize Mack.
CB NICK MCCLOUD - Buffalo Bills
McCloud was a third-team All-ACC after going the Irish for his final season of eligibility. In his career with the N.C. State Wolfpack and the Irish, he accumulated 139 tackles (two for loss) and 32 passes defended. He also picked off four passes (one with the Irish). His nine passes defensed led Notre Dame last year.
Dane Brugler analysis: “McCloud is a classic press-man corner with grabby hands and stiffness in his transition, but excellent length, speed and compete skills.”
The Bills don’t have any Notre Dame players on their current roster and haven’t drafted one since taking two - Dan O’Leary and Tony Driver - in 2001.
WR JAVON MCKINLEY - Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions signing Javon McKinley to undrafted deal that includes $100,000 guaranteed: $85,000 of base salary guaranteed, $15,000 signing bonus— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) May 2, 2021
Javon McKinley has battled a slew of injuries — and one notable off-field arrest — to be a 12-game starter, catch 42 balls for 717 yards and earn honorable mention for the All-ACC team.
Dane Brugler analysis: “McKinley will face questions about his durability, but he looked like a future NFL player when healthy due to his mix of size, body control and ball skills.”
TE BROCK WRIGHT - Detroit Lions
When Brock Wright and Cole Kmet were signed in the 2017 recruiting class, I was way more excited about Wright than Kmet. Now the latter has finished his rookie season with the Chicago Bears, and the former is looking to hang on with the fellow NFC North Lions after catching seven passes for 78 yards (and a touchdown!) in his four-year Irish career.
Brock Wright is a TE prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.21 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 74 out of 929 TE from 1987 to 2021. https://t.co/Pvz5L4aRUI #RAS #Lions UDFAhttps://t.co/16dy5ikF3p pic.twitter.com/285TPnvnNh— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 1, 2021