Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2018

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

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8 MAY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY BRYAN DRISKELL P rior to the 2018 NFL Draft, Notre Dame had produced 29 selections during the Brian Kelly era, and 17 were players recruited by Kelly and his staff. Both numbers will grow by at least four by the time this year 's draft is complete. Notre Dame will have several se- niors in 2018 with a chance to con- tinue adding to that number. Here is a look at Notre Dame's top prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft: SENIORS JERRY TILLERY, DT Measurables: 6-6¾, 299 Best Case: Tillery moving to three- technique for his final season gives him a chance to put up major pro- duction. His athleticism will be on greater display and his hand play becomes a significant strength. Worst Case: Consistency from a focus standpoint continues to be an issue for Tillery. If that occurs, he will continue tantalizing with his talent and his production will not be as good as it should be. Early Projection: If Tillery has the senior season he's capable of, there is an opportunity to jump into the first round of the draft. His size is elite, he is athletic for his size, he has tremendous experience and his production has a chance to soar even more this season. High production and outstand- ing natural tools would help over- shadow some of the concerns people have about his passion for the game. ALEX BARS, OL Measurables: 6-6, 318 Best Case: Bars emerges as the new "alpha" along the Notre Dame offensive line, which has produced four first-round picks in the last five drafts. If that happens, Bars will quickly emerge as the team's best blocker, and scouts will get to see his unique combination of size, versatil- ity, athleticism and punch. Worst Case: Bars continues to flash brilliant play, but the lack of consis- tency that has plagued him over the last two years persists and the Nash- ville, Tenn., native doesn't take that next big step forward. Early Projection: Bars has first- round talent, he just has to start play- ing like it. The tools are there — he has excellent size, he is a quality ath- lete for his size and his strength has improved a great deal. When he was "on" last season he was Notre Dame's second best blocker. Now he has to show that all the time. Bars will have started at three different positions during his career, so his flexibility is going to be attractive to scouts. SAM MUSTIPHER, OL Measurables: 6-2½, 304 Best Case: Mustipher becomes a team leader and takes his game to another level. In his final season, he improves his ability to get movement at the point of attack and is able to dominate to a greater degree. He also improves his pad level and enhances his pass blocking game. Worst Case: Mustipher just contin- ues to be what he has been, which is a tough, gritty, solid player that gets the job done game after game, but doesn't dominate the way other top players do. Early Projection: Mustipher will likely be one of the nation's top centers this season, but he lacks the stature to be considered a top round pick. If he plays at his best this sea- son, jumping into the third or fourth round is possible, but his lack of ideal length keeps him from jump- ing higher. UNDER THE DOME LOOKING AHEAD Breaking down Notre Dame's future NFL Draft prospects Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery could become a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft with a breakout senior season. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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