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Notre Dame & The 2016 NFL Draft Summary: 1-Through-10

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Head coach Brian Kelly's Notre Dame teams have reached a point where it can regularly produce at least a half dozen NFL players per year.
BGI/Bill Panzica

1 With seven Notre Dame players drafted compared to USC’s four this year, the Fighting Irish are now within one of the Trojans for most players selected since the draft’s inception in 1936, per UND.com: 493-492. Despite getting a national high 12 picked this year, Ohio State remains a distant third with 429.

The Buckeyes closed the gap on USC in first round picks after having five called on Thursday. That puts them at 76, compared to the Trojans’ 79 (with cornerback Adoree Jackson and receiver JuJu Smith projected next in line in 2017). Notre Dame is third with 66.

2 This year Notre Dame tied for second place all-time in its history with six players selected in the first three rounds. The most was seven in 1994, and the 1967 and 1993 NFL Drafts also had six apiece, with the former coming after a national title in 1966, and the latter after a 10-1-1 ledger and No. 4 placement in 1992.

All seven of Notre Dame’s selections came among the top 103 picks (or early fourth round): left tackle Ronnie Stanley (6, Baltimore), receiver Will Fuller (21, Houston), linebacker Jaylon Smith (34, Dallas), center Nick Martin (50, Houston), cornerback KeiVarae Russell (74, Kansas City), running back C.J. Prosise (90, Seattle) and defensive lineman Sheldon Day (103, Jacksonville).

Having seven Fighting Irish selections among the top 103 hasn’t occurred since 1994: defensive lineman Bryant Young (7), guard Aaron Taylor (16), defensive back Jeff Burris (27), center Tim Ruddy (65), defensive tackle Jim Flanigan (74), cornerback Willie Clark (82) and receiver Lake Dawson (92). The difference is all were in the first three rounds, whereas Day went early in the fourth round.

3 Russell’s selection in round 3 with the 74th overall choice was the highest by a Notre Dame cornerback since 1995, when Bobby Taylor came out after his junior season and was picked with the No. 50 overall selection in the second round. Brock Williams in 2001 and Allen Rossum in 1998 also were third-round choices, but at No. 86 and No. 85 overall, with Rossum more of a return man.

Meanwhile, Prosise was the first Irish running back to go in the top three rounds (90th overall) since Julius Jones with the No. 43 overall pick in the 2004 second round. The only other Irish running back selected since then was Theo Riddick in the sixth round (2013).

4 Notre Dame tied Alabama and Florida for fourth place in most players drafted this year. Ohio State was first with 12 — a record 10 in the first three rounds — while Clemson was second with nine and UCLA third with eight.

Since going to the seven-round format in 1994, the record is 14, also held by OSU in 2004.

5 Free agents from Notre Dame who signed contracts after the seven-round draft: receivers Chris Brown (Dallas) and Amir Carlisle (Arizona), defensive end Romeo Okwara (New York Giants), and defensive backs Elijah Shumate (Tampa Bay) and Matthias Farley (Arizona). Defensive end Ishaq Williams, who did not play the last two seasons, will have a tryout with the Giants as well.

Last year there were nine Fighting Irish players on NFL active rosters (not just practice squads) during and/or at the end of the season despite not getting drafted: safety Sergio Brown (Jacksonville), running back Jonas Gray (Jacksonville), long-snapper J.J. Jansen (Carolina), defensive back Cody Riggs (Tennessee), offensive lineman Trevor Robinson (San Diego), offensive guard Kona Schwenke (injured reserve for Seattle), cornerback Darrin Walls (New York Jets), defensive lineman Ian Williams (San Francisco) and running back Cierre Wood (injured reserve for Buffalo).

6 Stanley’s No. 6 selection was the highest by a Notre Dame player since quarterback Rick Mirer was No. 2 in 1993, behind quarterback Drew Bledsoe. The only other offensive lineman alumnus from Notre Dame taken above Stanley was eight-time Pro Bowl pick George Kunz in 1969 with the No. 2 pick (behind USC Heisman Trophy winner O.J. Simpson).

7 The seven players drafted this year is the second most under head coach Brian Kelly, who is entering his seventh season. He had eight in 2014. Barring any juniors turning pro early, next year Notre Dame would be hard pressed to match that standard of eight — or maybe even the seven this year. On defense it would be linemen Isaac Rochell and Jarron Jones, linebacker James Onwualu, cornerback Cole Luke and safety Max Redfield, and then on offense left tackle Mike McGlinchey, receiver Torii Hunter Jr. and running back Tarean Folston — with all three having a fifth season of eligibility in 2017.

8 Notre Dame linebackers who have been second-round selections since 1961, with Jaylon Smith the most recent (34th overall, to Dallas). The only one ever selected in the first round was Bob Crable in 1982.

The other seven second round choices were: Myron Pottios (1961) and Jim Lynch (1967) — both future Pro Bowl players — Greg Collins (1975), Bob Golic (1979), who would become a three-time Pro Bowl nose guard, Demetrius DuBose (1993), Courtney Watson (2004) and Manti Te’o (2013).

9 Notre Dame regular season 2015 opponents among its 12 that had three or less players drafted: Temple had three, Boston College and Georgia Tech each had two, Pitt, Navy, UMass, Texas and Virginia had one apiece, and Wake Forest none.

The three who were considered on Notre Dame’s level in overall personnel were Clemson (9), Stanford (5) and USC (4).

10 Is a Holy Grail number for draft picks from a school in a single season since going to the seven-round format in 1994. Notre Dame did it that first year with 10 — the seven listed in No. 2, plus safety John Covington and linebackers Anthony Peterson and Pete Bercich from rounds 5-7.

Among schools to reach that double digit total were Miami in 2002 (11), Ohio State in 2004 (14), USC in 2009 (11), Oklahoma in 2010 (10), Florida State in 2015 (11) and Ohio State this year (12). Alabama has been at 7-to-9 almost yearly.