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Notre Dame Football: 8 2021 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch for the Fighting Irish

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Notre Dame Football: 8 2021 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch for the Fighting Irish

Notre Dame Football: 8 2021 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch for the Fighting Irish

While Notre Dame did not have a player selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, they were well represented on the second day. Tight end Cole Kmet was taken by the Chicago Bears in Round 2 and a few picks later, wide receiver Chase Claypool was snatched up by Pittsburgh. At the start of the third round, Julian Okwara was chosen by Detroit, where he will join his brother Romeo as a Lion.

Projecting out to 2021, Notre Dame could see similar results with some of their players that are eligible for the next draft. Don't expect any Notre Dame guys to go very early, but several will hear their names called. It is possible that these eight are selected next April.

Aaron Banks, G, (Jr., 6-5, 325)

Banks has had some foot problems during his career, but he started all 13 games last season and was a mainstay at left guard. He will have another year of eligibility remaining after next season, but if he can increase his mobility a bit, he's the type of mauler NFL teams like on the interior.

Ian Book, QB (Sr., 6-0, 212)

Book does not have the measurables in that he is only 6-foot and he does not have a rocket arm. What he does have is a world of game experience and a 20-3 record as a starting quarterback. He certainly won't be a high pick, but he is someone that could be selected in the latter part of the draft as a developmental player.

Liam Eichenberg, OT (Sr., 6-6, 305)

Eichenberg has the frame and athleticism to be an NFL tackle. But he has to clean things up. In 2019, he committed too many penalties, especially false starts that can be classified as mental mistakes. If he can eliminate those transgressions, Eichenberg could be selected in an early round.

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Robert Hainsey, OT, (Sr., 6-5, 295)

Notre Dame's other tackle is different than Eichenberg in many ways. He may project more as a guard on the next level, if he can add size and strength. Hainsey is not as physically gifted as Liam Eichenberg, but he was named Notre Dame's offensive lineman of the year despite missing the last five games with an injury. Hainsey was a captain in 2019 and will most likely have that title again this coming season.

Daelin Hayes, DE (Sr., 6-4, 266)

With Hayes, so much is based on potential. He has played mostly a reserve role behind Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara during his time at Notre Dame and a torn labrum ended his 2019 campaign early. But before the injury, Hayes was showing explosiveness and with Kareem and Okwara out of eligibility, the Ann Arbor, Michigan, native has a chance to shine.

Tommy Kraemer, G (Sr., 6-6, 319)

Kraemer is another Irish player that saw his 2019 season cut short by an injury. He did not allow a sack before hurting his knee in the Michigan game halfway through the year. There was talk that Kraemer could declare for the 2020 draft before the injury led him back to Notre Dame for a fifth year.

Ade Ogundeji, DE (Sr., 6-4, 253)

Like Daelin Hayes, Ogundeji has spent much of his time backing up Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara. Now that they have moved on, the senior will get his chance. Ogundeji arrived at Notre Dame as a raw, unheralded recruit. But he has flashed impressive athleticism when he has gotten his chance and his production should spike dramatically this season.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB (Jr., 6-1, 216)

If Liam Eichenberg is not the first Notre Dame player picked next year, it will most likely be Owusu-Koramoah. From his Rover position, Owusu-Koramoah led the team with 13.5 tackles for lost yardage and tied for the team lead in both tackles and sacks. Being perhaps a bit too small to play a traditional linebacker role and not quite twitchy enough for safety, he is a bit of a tweener. But with a move to more of a position-less defense, Owusu-Koramoah can be a versatile player at the next level.

— 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.