Blue and Gold Illustrated

June/July 2017

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

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8 JUNE/JULY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY MATT JONES N otre Dame had only two players selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, but its 2018 class figures to be much larger. The Fighting Irish could have multiple first-round picks and a handful of early round selections next April. Here's an early look at members of the 2017 team that could hear their names called at the NFL Draft next spring: MIKE MCGLINCHEY, OT The 6-8, 312-pound McGlinchey was in this same spot a year ago, projected by many to leave after his senior season in South Bend. But a handful of factors contributed to his return for a fifth year, which greatly bolsters the Irish offensive line. The Philadelphia native said he wants to improve his skills as a left tackle while he enters his second year at the position (he played right tackle in 2014 and 2015). A desire to bring Notre Dame back to prominence after a dismal 4-8 season also is high on the two-year captain's priority list. "He's going to be right among the top senior prospects heading into next season," Scott Wright of DraftCountdown.com said. "He had a chance to be a first-round pick had he come out [in 2017] in a crop of offensive tackles that everyone kind of admitted was lackluster. "He has potential to be top-10 or top-15 overall pick a year from now. That's why he went back. He needed another year of development, and he's going to be bigger and stronger a year from now. He just needs to clean up some technical aspects." QUENTON NELSON, OG Nelson has been a no-brainer NFL prospect since he took the field as a starter during his sophomore season in 2015. Now entering his third year at left guard — and his second alongside McGlinchey — Nelson has to continue his dominant play to put his name high on NFL Draft boards. The hulking 6-5, 329-pound Nelson, likely the strongest individual on Notre Dame's roster, ap- pears on several 2018 first-round mock drafts. "I don't think he would've been a first-round pick had he come out [in 2017] just because of the positional value, but he would've been right in the mix to be one of the first two or three guards off the board," Wright said. "He's ultimately going to carry a higher grade coming out of college than any of the true guards in this class. "He's a pretty impressive player." ALIZÉ MACK, TE Having not taken the field since the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State in January 2016, Mack — for- merly Alizé Jones — is eager to show coaches, teammates and NFL scouts he can still be a major weapon. After sitting out the 2016 season because of academic suspension, Mack figures to be a vital part of the Irish offense and has the size (6-4, 245), speed, strength and hands that NFL teams covet. He flashed those talents in spring practice, and a productive junior season in 2017 will position him to forego his senior year. "All the talent in the world," Wright said. "I re- member he was a guy with a really high profile coming out of high school, and of course he needs to put it all together and prove it. He's got first- round type talent. "There's no doubt he's one of the most physically talented tight ends in the country, and now it's just up to him to put it all together on the field." EQUANIMEOUS ST. BROWN, WR During an otherwise disappointing season, the 6-5, 204-pound St. Brown was a welcome distrac- tion for Irish fans. He worked well with former Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer, catching 58 passes for 961 yards and nine touchdowns. UNDER THE DOME BOUNCE-BACK CLASS? These Notre Dame players could be selected in next year's NFL Draft Mike McGlinchey could follow in the footsteps of Notre Dame's previous two left tackles — Ronnie Stanely (2016) and Zack Martin (2014) — and be selected in the first round. PHOTO BY RICK KIMBALL

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