April 30, 2007
The University of Notre Dame produced seven NFL draft picks this past weekend, tying for the second-most draft picks the Irish have had since the NFL switched to the seven-round format in 1994. Ten players were selected in 1994 while seven former players were also taken in both the 1999 and 2003 drafts.
Notre Dame had three players taken in the first 70 picks, the most since 1994 when four were taken in the first 70 selections. The Irish also tied two other schools (Michigan and Texas) for the third-most players selected in the 2007 draft, trailing only Florida (9) and Ohio State (8).
Quarterback Brady Quinn was the first player taken for Notre Dame as the Cleveland Browns traded up to snag Quinn with the 22nd overall pick in the first round. Quinn became the first Irish player drafted in the first round since Jeff Faine was taken by the Browns with the 21st pick in 2003 and was the first Notre Dame QB to be taken in the first round since Rick Mirer in 1993. Quinn became the 61st player in school history to be drafted in the first round and just the second Irish signal-caller to be drafted in the opening round since 1960.
Defensive end Victor Abiamiri was taken in the second round (57th overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles, the earliest an Irish defensive lineman had been selected since Anthony Weaver was drafted by Baltimore with the 52nd selection in 2002. Shortly after Abiamiri was off the board, offensive tackle Ryan Harris was chosen by the Denver Broncos with the sixth pick of the third round (70th overall). Harris became the first Notre Dame offensive tackle drafted since Jordan Black in 2003 and the earliest Irish tackle taken since the NY Giants snagged Luke Petitgout with the 19th pick in 1999.
Four more former Notre Dame football players were taken on the second day of the NFL Draft. The fifth and sixth rounds each saw one Irish player selected while two players were chosen in the seventh round. Defensive tackle Derek Landri was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 166th pick and offensive lineman Dan Santucci was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 202nd overall selection. Cornerback Mike Richardson had his name called by the New England Patriots with the 230th pick followed shortly thereafter by his secondary teammate safety Chinedum Ndukwe. Ndukwe joins Santucci in Cincinnati as the Bengals used the 253rd pick on Brady Quinn’s former high school wide receiver.
The seven members drafted from Notre Dame in 2007 were split almost evenly with four defensive players being selected to three offensive players. The four defensive players represented the most players taken from that side of the ball at Notre Dame since 1994 when seven members of the Irish defense were selected. The three players taken on the first day was also the most since four Notre Dame players were taken in the first three rounds in the 1997 draft.
Four players that were not drafted quickly signed with NFL teams as free agents: tight end Marcus Freeman (Baltimore), defensive end Chris Frome (Chicago), defensive end Travis Leitko (Baltimore) and wide receiver Rhema McKnight (New Orleans).