Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pouring a Draft | by Jay

With the NFL draft set to start in a little bit, I thought I'd point out a few good reads from this week pertaining to the Irish and the draft. Frank at UHND has some great stuff on all-time Irish draft steals and draft busts; Trevor Laws recounted to the Philly Inquirer his draft-day jitters from last year; and Mike Rothstein at the FWJG had a lively Q&A with David Bruton, detailing his expectations for the draft today and how everyone back home in Miamisburg, Ohio, is rooting for him.

Bruton, as we know, is likely the only Irish graduate to get drafted this weekend (Terrail Lambert is probably the only other possibility, but even he's a longshot). The other candidates -- Mo Crum, Pat Kuntz, Mike Turkovich, and Asaph Schwapp -- will end up being free agents and might get a camp tryout here or there. Crum, for his part, talked about his prospects with Rothstein.

Irish Insights: What's the next plan (if you don't get drafted)? Would you do the free agent thing? Would you do something else?

MC: "I'd go free agent, just from talking with my coaches and people who know football, most of them seem to think that for whatever reason I didn't get the recognition or whatever but most of them think I'm good enough to play at the next level so I believe I can play at the next level. I'll just have to go a different route and whatever happens happens. As long as I get a chance to prove myself and have an opportunity, that's all I can ask for. If it doesn't work out that way, then I'll move on but I am going to 100 percent pursue football."

Irish Insights: After the season was over, were you somewhat surprised you weren't invited to the NFL combine considering the career you had?

MC: "I was a little shocked by that, that I didn't get an invite, that I didn't get a chance to attend. I was just shocked. I guess I wasn't supposed to be there, I just don't know. It's one of those things you can't really explain but you have to accept it and move on.

Irish Insights: When you see that, is that a reality check for you?

MC: "No, not really. It's a lot of things that go on that I never really understood and I just put it in that category."

Irish Insights: When you're talking to teams, what do you say to them to sell yourself?

MC: "For one, I tell them that as far as being on the field, that I eventually become an extension of the coaching staff on the field through leadership and being a smart player and getting the system down and helping other players on the field to know if they don't know what they are doing, our chances on the field to be successful become that much greater. I feel like I can bring that to a team and lastly, I'm a team player. I love football and just love to play the game nad be around a team. You don't have to worry any issues or problems with me and whatever team I'm with, I'll give 110 percent."
Having just one guy drafted is pretty poor, but it is not an unprecedented occurrence for the Irish; if you look at the history of Notre Dame players taken, you'll see a few years with pretty low yields. The last time we had a solitary draft pick was in 2000, when Jarious Jackson was the only Irish player to hear his name called (in the seventh round, to the Broncos). In 1998, Allen Rossum walked alone (picked by the Eagles), but then you have to go all the way back to 1977 to find somebody else flying solo (running back Al Hunter, to the Seahawks).

Usually, the Irish have at least a handful of guys walking across the stage. Although the number of rounds in the draft has changed (going from as high as 26 rounds in the 1940s, to the current 7-round format) and the overall number of players drafted has fluctuated, if you draw a line at the first 270 players taken, the Irish have averaged just over 5 picks per draft going back to 1967 (the first year that we have a good accounting of not just the round, but the specific selection number where a player was taken).

With just Bruton getting drafted this year, and just four guys drafted the year before, I was curious how heavily "draft pick-laden" different teams were over the years for the Irish. I took a quick rack-up of draft picks, and then summed the total number of guys who were eventually drafted who were on the roster at the time, whether they were seniors or freshmen or whatever. Here's the spreadsheet. Obviously this is just a quick tally and doesn't take into account transfers, nor does it do any weighting (by draft position, class year, or anything else). But I think it still shows a correlation between a team's record, and how many draft picks it eventually produced. If I have some time, I might do some weighting and see what else shakes out.

Sunday Update: David Bruton goes to the Broncos in the 4th round, the 114th pick overall in the draft, and the sixth safety taken.

Monday Update: 5 ND players signed as free agents with David Grimes headed to Denver, Mike Turkovich and Asaph Schwapp joining the Dallas Cowboys, Terrail Lambert headed west to San Francisco, and Pat Kuntz staying in Indiana with the Colts. Mo Crum and Justin Brown are expected to sign with teams soon.