Chase Claypool is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Miles Boykin and hear his name called during next year's draft
It's very obvious. The more successful a college football team is, the more players they will lose to the NFL draft. Once again, Alabama had the most players selected with 10 and was closely followed by Ohio State with nine. Oklahoma, who Alabama beat in the College Football Playoff semifinal, had eight players' names called.
So it stands to reason, that as Notre Dame becomes more of a factor on the national scene, a greater number of Irish players will be coveted by the NFL. This past week, defensive tackle Jerry Tillery became the third Irish star in the past two years to be picked in the first round. In total, six members of the 2018 Fighting Irish were chosen in the draft, the same number as national champion Clemson.
Next year should be more of the same. Whether or not Notre Dame makes it back to the playoff remains to be seen, but the Irish should be contenders once again, which means more talented guys in gold helmets will be wanted by NFL teams.
Here’s a look at eight Golden Domers (in alphabetical order) that could be selected next April.
Ian Book, QB (Sr., 6-0, 208)
It is unlikely that Book enters the draft because his physical tools don't stand out. But he is a smart player and an accurate passer. If Book develops more consistency as a deep passer and puts up big numbers while leading the Irish on another playoff run, the senior quarterback may decide to test the NFL waters rather than come back for a fifth year.
Chase Claypool, WR (Sr., 6-4, 229)
Claypool is very similar in size to Miles Boykin, the Irish receiver that was drafted in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens. The senior is a big, physical presence that can make the tough catch. He will be Book's go-to guy next fall and should see his stats spike with Boykin off to the NFL.
Liam Eichenberg, OT (Sr., 6-6, 305)
Quietly, Eichenberg had a very solid 2018 season for the Irish and may have been the most consistent performer up front. One would expect improvement in his second season as a starter and if Eichenberg tests well at the Scouting Combine it will make a big impression on NFL scouts.
Alohi Gilman, S (Sr., 5-11, 201)
Gilman is a smart, instinctual player with an underrated skill set. In his first year at Notre Dame, after transferring in from Navy, Gilman quickly became a team leader and finished second on the team in tackles. Adding to his resume, the Hawaii native could be a key factor on special teams at the next level.
Khalid Kareem, DE (Sr., 6-4, 262)
Ankle injuries hampered Kareem for a good part of the year, but he was still very productive with 11.5 tackles for lost yardage and 5.5 sacks. Kareem isn't flashy but he’s a solid player against both the pass and the run.
Tommy Kraemer, G (Sr., 6-6, 319)
For much of the season, Kraemer didn't look like the 5-star recruit that he was coming into Notre Dame in 2016. But the senior received rave reviews this spring for his added agility. Kraemer's development, coupled with his experience, could make him a draft candidate next year.
Julian Okwara, DE (Sr., 6-5, 240)
NFL defensive coaches are always on the lookout for players that can rush the passer and Okwara fits the bill. A bit undersized for the next level, Okwara is quick and doesn't give up. He led the team in sacks last year and has the potential to be an elite edge player next fall.
Troy Pride, CB (Sr., 6-0, 194)
If Pride is able to build off a solid 2018, he could shoot to the top of many draft boards. That's because he has decent size and blazing speed that will make an impact at the Combine. With Julian Love now with the New York Giants, Pride will get his chance to be Notre Dame's lockdown corner.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.