For the first time in 18 years, Notre Dame could have two players selected in the first round of the NFL draft. With ther first round of the annual draft taking place Thursday night, wide receiver Michael Floyd and safety Harrison Smith both have a great shot at being selected which would give the Irish multiple players in the opening round for the first time since 1994 when Bryant Young, Aaron Taylor, and Jeff Burris were all first round picks.
Floyd will most assuredly be a top 15 or even top 10 pick. He’ll become the first Notre Dame first round pick since Brady Quinn went #22 overall in 2007. Many mock drafts have him going #10 to the Buffalo Bills. If he does go that high, he’ll be the highest Notre Dame player taken since Bryant Young went #7 in 1994 and the first Irish wide receiver taken in the first round since Tim Brown went #6 overall in 1988. Floyd deserves the love after his record-setting career. His 271 receptions, 3.686 receiving yards, 37 touchdowns, and 19 career games with 100 receiving yards are all Fighting Irish records.
Smith, likewise, earned his way as a potential first rounder through hard work and production. After bouncing around between safety and linebacker his first couple of seasons, he finally settled in at safety and became the unquestioned leader of the defense and one of the most productive players on the team. His 309 career tackles are the eighth most in school history and his seven interceptions in 2010 are the sixth most ever in a single season. But even more importantly than his numbers was the toughness and leadership Smith brought to the team. Without him in the lineup over the past couple of seasons, the Notre Dame defense would not have been half as good as it was. Some have him going as high as 28th to Green Bay. Many have him going to New England 31st overall. If he does go in the first round, he’ll be the first Irish safety to go that high since Jeff Burris in 1994.
Besides Floyd and Smith, several other former Fighting Irish should have an opportunity to hear their names called this week. Running back Jonas Gray, offensive linemen Trevor Robinson and Taylor Dever, defensive lineman Ethan Johnson, linebacker Darius Fleming, cornerbacks Gary Gray and Robert Blanton, and even kicker David Ruffer all could be taken over the next three days. If all do go this will one of the more productive drafts for Notre Dame players in history.
The first round takes place Thursday night. Rounds two and three are on Friday with rounds four through seven wrapping things up on Saturday.