Blue and Gold Illustrated

June/July 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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40 JUNE/JULY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY MATT JONES J ust two former Notre Dame players were selected in the NFL Draft during the final weekend of April, and another three signed contracts as undrafted free agents, while two more were in- vited to rookie minicamps. Michigan led the way with 11 draft selections this year, a new school record. Alabama had 10, part of 53 players from the Southeastern Con- ference getting selected. The SEC had 21 players taken in the first two rounds, a new conference record. Last year, Notre Dame had seven players selected in the first four rounds, which equaled the output in the 1955, 1967, 1993 and 1994 draft classes for the most in school history through that round. There are several factors to why Notre Dame had just two players selected. The banner year for the program in 2016 featured two stars in Jaylon Smith and Will Fuller — Fuller a first-round pick and Smith a second rounder — who could have been part of the 2017 class. Star offensive linemen Mike Mc- Glinchey and Quenton Nelson elected to return for another season in 2017 rather than declare early, despite early round projections for both. Quarterback DeShone Kizer head- lined the 2017 draft for the Irish, go- ing in the second round (No. 52 over- all) to the Cleveland Browns. He was the fourth quarterback selected in the 2017 draft. Chicago, Kansas City and Houston traded up to select Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and De- shaun Watson, respectively, in the first round. Considered a first-round talent early in the evaluation process, Kizer slipped down draft boards during Notre Dame's 4-8 season in 2016. By falling from the late-first to the late-second round, Kizer lost about $5 million in total contract value. The estimated value of his rookie deal is $4,961,316, according to spotrac.com. Kizer attended the first round of the draft, but returned to his home- town of Toledo, Ohio, for the second round. He said all of his family mem- bers are fans of the Browns, and he's able to draw a connection between the 4-8 season Notre Dame had in 2016 and the Cleveland franchise. "From the experiences I was able to go through in this 2016 season, STAYING HOME DeShone Kizer is taken in the second round of the NFL Draft by the home state Cleveland Browns Kizer, who was taken 52nd overall, was the first Notre Dame quarterback since Jimmy Clausen in 2010 to be selected in the NFL Draft. PHOTO COURTESY CLEVELAND BROWNS

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