Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2019

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

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30 JUNE/JULY 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY BRYAN DRISKELL A nother successful year for the Fighting Irish football pro- gram resulted in six players getting chosen in the 2019 NFL Draft. Notre Dame ranked seventh among all colleges in total play- ers drafted, and was tied for sixth with four selections in the first four rounds. Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery was the first Irish player to come off the board, but his selection was notable for more than just that. When he was picked No. 28 overall by the Los An- geles Chargers, it marked the first time since Renaldo Wynn in 1997 that an Irish defensive lineman was taken in the first round. In the fourth round, the Chargers also took line- backer Drue Tranquill with the No. 130 overall pick. Wide receiver Miles Boykin — who was a starter for the Irish for just one season — was selected No. 93 overall in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens. He became the fifth wide receiver from head coach Brian Kel- ly's tenure to develop into an NFL Draft pick. He also is the third former Notre Dame standout to be selected by the Ravens during Kelly's time in South Bend, joining Kapron Lewis- Moore (2013) and Ronnie Stanley (2016). Julian Love was taken No. 108 overall in the fourth round by the New York Giants, becoming the sec- ond former Irish cornerback under Kelly to get selected by that franchise (Bennett Jackson, 2014). Like Boykin, running back Dexter Williams was just a one-year starter at Notre Dame, but that didn't stop him from getting drafted by the Green Bay Packers No. 194 overall in the sixth round. He joins C.J. Prosise (2016) and Theo Riddick (2013) as running backs under Kelly who have been drafted. The New Orleans Saints selected tight end Alizé Mack No. 231 over- all in the seventh round. It marked the first time since 2004 (Courtney Watson) the Saints drafted a former Irish player. CHARGERS DOUBLE UP ON IRISH With the additions of Tillery and Tranquill, the Chargers have now drafted five former Irish players since Kelly took over in South Bend. Prior to 2019, linebacker Manti Te'o was taken in the second round in 2013, offensive guard Chris Watt was picked in the third round in 2014 and defensive end Isaac Rochell was se- lected in the seventh round in 2017. Tillery might not have gone until the 28th pick, but the club held him in much higher regard. According to general manager Tom Telesco, the team graded no more than 18 play- ers as first-round prospects. Picking so low on the first day made it a little dicey for the Chargers, but they got the break they needed when Tillery was still available. "He was [the last one]," Telesco said of the first-round graded players left on their draft board. "He was it, which I give our scouts credit. They saw him, they liked him, they had him in the right spot for us. "… Knowing with the 28th pick that we got a guy that we feel is a solid first-round player — you don't always get that at the 28th pick." According to Pro Football Focus, Tillery led all interior defensive line- men in pass rush success rate last season and was fourth in quarter- back pressures. He was picked with the thought that he would provide a much-needed boost to the Chargers' inside pass rush that totaled only 9.5 sacks from its tackles last season. "To have an inside rusher like him, and the ability that he has to stop the run, he's a great pick for us," Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Jerry Tillery became the first Notre Dame defensive lineman to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since 1997, going No. 28 overall to the Los Angeles Chargers. PHOTO COURTESY LOS ANGELES CHARGERS OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS Six former Notre Dame players were selected in the 2019 NFL Draft

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