Notre Dame has had multiple first round draft picks just twice in the Brian Kelly era, and that is something that could happen again in the 2021 NFL Draft. In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. projects a pair of former Notre Dame players to go in the first round.
Kiper has All-American linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah going No. 23 overall to the New York Jets.
"I like what general manager Joe Douglas has done in free agency, but the Jets have to address their defense with this pick. I'd keep an eye on every position outside of defensive tackle -- Quinnen Williams is a future superstar -- and draft the best defender on the board. For me, that's Owusu-Koramoah, a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine. Yes, New York gets back C.J. Mosley, and it added Jarrad Davis in free agency, but coach Robert Saleh & Co. can find ways to get all three of them on the field. Owusu-Koramoah has some coverage traits that could make him valuable on third down. If one of the top corners drops to No. 23, the Jets should pounce."
This is the Jets second pick of round one, and with the first pick (No. 2 overall) Kiper has New York taking BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. If Owusu-Koramoah gets selected among the first 32 picks he'll become the first Notre Dame linebacker since 1982 (Bob Crable) to get picked in the first round.
Kiper has the defending AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs taking Liam Eichenberg with the No. 31 overall pick.
"The Chiefs are shaking up their offensive line, signing guards Joe Thuney and Kyle Long in free agency and letting tackles Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher and interior linemen Austin Reiter and Kelechi Osemele walk (although Kansas City could still bring back one or some of them on short-term deals). And even after retaining Mike Remmers, it makes sense to draft a young tackle who could start down the road. There's some buzz around Eichenberg, who was the Fighting Irish's left tackle for the past two seasons. He has great feet and packs a punch in the run game."
Every starting left tackle of the Kelly era has gone in the first round, and if this projection comes true it would continue that tradition. The three previous first round left tacklers were Zach Martin of the Dallas Cowboys, Ronnie Stanley of the Baltimore Ravens and Mike McGlinchey of the San Francisco 49ers.
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