Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2019

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

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Page 32 of 55 JUNE/JULY 2019 33 "His play speed would say differ- ently," Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst said of Williams' testing numbers. "His ability to be decisive, stick his foot in the ground and just hit it, he doesn't waste any time. "He has a knack for running to daylight. Some guys since they started playing are just natural run- ners, and he's one of those guys." The Packers like his ability to be a home-run hitter, a la his 97-yard scor- ing romp at Virginia Tech last year. "He's also a finisher," Gutekunst explained. "When he hits a crease and gets a little space he's able to run away from people." MACK KEEPS TIGHT END STREAK ALIVE Notre Dame continued its streak of tight ends being drafted when Alizé Mack was chosen by the New Or- leans Saints in the seventh round. Since 2003, every opening day start- ing tight end for the Irish has gone on to get picked in the draft at the con- clusion of his career in South Bend. Making the team as a seventh- round pick can be challenging, but the Saints like what they see in Mack. "We think he has a skill set," head coach Sean Payton explained. "… He can move well, I think you see him transition. He's a little further along in the passing game than he is in the running game." UNDRAFTED OPPORTUNITIES A number of former Notre Dame players will get a chance to make NFL rosters despite not getting drafted. Former Irish linebacker Te'von Coney was selected to play in the 2019 Reese's Senior Bowl, which is a postseason all-star game that gives collegiate players an opportunity to boost their draft stock while practic- ing with and playing for NFL coach- ing staffs. Coney competed with the North squad, which was led by Oak- land Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. After going undrafted, Coney was signed by the Raiders as a free agent, which would lead one to assume he made a good impression on the Oak- land coaches. Former Irish captains Alex Bars and Sam Mustipher signed with the Chicago Bears, where they will be re- united with former Notre Dame line coach Harry Hiestand. Safety Nick Coleman was given a rookie tryout with the Oakland Raid- ers as well before heading to the Los Angeles Chargers as a non-roster in- vitee. Punter Tyler Newsome was also signed by the Chargers as an undrafted free agent. Defensive tackle Jonathan Bonner was invited for a rookie tryout by the Washington Redskins, who signed him two days later. Kicker Justin Yoon was given a similar tryout with the Chicago Bears, but he did not get signed or invited back to camp. ✦ 2020 Draft Prospects Looking Strong For Notre Dame Notre Dame is primed to have another big draft year in 2020. A number of Irish players are already re- ceiving first-round projections, and big seasons from veterans like wide receiver Chase Claypool, defen- sive end Daelin Hayes, cornerback Troy Pride Jr. and safety Alohi Gilman could boost their stock as well. A number of mock drafts have placed returning Notre Dame players into the 2020 first round: The Athletic — Dane Brugler had senior offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg (No. 27, Cleveland Browns) and senior defensive lineman Julian Okwara (No. 31, Los Angeles Rams) as first-round picks in his initial 2020 mock draft. — Okwara was pegged to the Tennessee Titans (No. 12) in this mock draft by Ryan Wilson. — Eichenberg was projected as a first rounder (No. 24, Green Bay Packers). The Draft Network — Trevor Sikkema had senior offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer (No. 28, Los Angeles Chargers) slated as a first rounder. — Had senior end Khalid Kareem (No. 26, Minnesota Vikings), who listed as Notre Dame's top draft prospect for 2020, being taken in the first round. — Predicted Okwara going No. 9 to the Buffalo Bills. — Bryan Driskell With Alizé Mack going in the seventh round to the New Orleans Saints, Notre Dame continued its streak of having every one of its opening day starters at tight end drafted since 2003. PHOTO COURTESY NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

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