Sunday, April 29, 2007

Best Irish Draft in a Decade

As the second day of the 2007 NFL Draft winds down, the big story of the weekend remains Brady Quinn's long day yesterday, as he very publicly slid down the draft board until the Cleveland Browns traded up to take him with the 22nd overall pick. As a big fan and defender of Brady Quinn, I felt really bad for him, although it looks like he landed in a spot that may be perfect for him.

But lost in the agony of Brady's tough day is the fact that this was the best draft year for Notre Dame since 1997. Three Irish players were first day picks (Quinn in Rd. 1, Victor Abiamiri in Rd. 2 to Philly, and Ryan Harris in Rd. 3 to Denver). Notre Dame has not had three first day draft picks since 1997, when four Domers went on Day 1 (Renaldo Wynn in Rd. 1 to Jacksonville, Marc Edwards in Rd. 2 to San Francisco, Bert Berry in Rd. 3 to Indy, and Kinnon Tatum also in Rd. 3 to Carolina). Since 1982 Notre Dame has had three or more players taken on Day 1 (Rounds 1 through 3) on just seven occasions, including 1997 and 2007.

  • 1988. Tim Brown (Rd. 1), Tom Rehder (Rd. 3), Chuck Lanza (Rd. 3). Five Irish drafted overall.
  • 1990. Anthony Johnson (Rd. 2), Tim Grunhard (Rd. 2), Jeff Alm (Rd. 2), Pat Terrell (Rd. 2). Nine players drafted overall (the Draft had more than 7 rounds in that era).
  • 1991. Todd Lyght (Rd. 1), Ricky Watters (Rd. 2), Chris Zorich (Rd. 2), Bob Dahl (Rd. 3). Ten players drafted overall (more than 7 rounds in Draft).
  • 1993. Rick Mirer (Rd. 1), Jerome Bettis (Rd. 1), Tom Carter (Rd. 1), Irv Smith (Rd. 1), Demetrius DuBose (Rd. 2), Reggie Brooks (Rd. 2). Nine players drafted overall (more than 7 rounds in Draft).
  • 1994. Bryant Young (Rd. 1), Aaron Taylor (Rd. 1), Jeff Burris (Rd. 1), Tim Ruddy (Rd. 2), Jim Flanigan (Rd. 3), Willie Clark (Rd. 3), Lake Dawson (Rd. 3). Ten Irish drafted in 7 rounds).
  • 1997. Renaldo Wynn (Rd. 1), Marc Edwards (Rd. 2), Bert Berry (Rd. 3), and Kinnon Tatum (Rd. 3). Five Irish drafted overall.
  • 2007. Brady Quinn (Rd. 1), Victor Abiamiri (Rd. 2), Ryan Harris (Rd. 3). Also Drafted: Derek Landri (Rd. 5 to Jacksonville), Mike Richardson (Rd. 6 to New England), Dan Santucci (Rd. 7 to Cincinnati) and Chinedum Ndukwe (Also in Rd. 7, also to Cincinnati), for a total of seven players drafted this year.
Looking at this list tells us a couple of things. First, and perhaps foremost: Lou Holtz was a heck of a football coach. Except for this year (2007), every other year since 1982 with three or more first day draft picks was during Coach Holtz's tenure. The second thing I take from the above list is that Coach Weis does seem to have the program headed in the right direction. It's true that this year's draftees were not Weis recruits, but you have to wonder whether any of these guys were destined to be first day picks before Charlie Weis showed up. I think not.

So I wish Brady Quinn all the best in Cleveland, playing for my new favorite NFL team. And I am also very excited for the future of Notre Dame football, as the results of the NFL draft show very clearly that our players are getting top-flight coaching for the first time since the Lou Holtz years.

[Note: Post edited to add players drafted in Rd. 7, after the time of the original post.]

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