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Tuitt, Niklas, Nix and Watt go in draft’s second day

May 10, 2014, 1:03 AM EDT

NCAA Football: Purdue at Notre Dame AP

Notre Dame had four former players taken on the NFL Draft’s second day, with Stephon Tuitt, Troy Niklas, Louis Nix and Chris Watt all selected. At the end of the third round, only LSU joined Notre Dame with five players selected.

The first player off the board for Notre Dame in round two was Stephon Tuitt, selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 46th pick. Tuitt, who entered the draft after his true junior season slipped down the board, falling well outside of the first round after a subpar final season in South Bend.

“If you look at him from the 2013 season and you compare him to the 2012 season, you will see a different guy,” Steelers defensive line and assistant head coach John Mitchell said. “We got a good football player tonight. If this guy had been healthy coming into his junior year, he probably would have been in the top-ten guys drafted. We feel like we got a steal in the second round with our pick.”

Surprisingly, Troy Niklas came off the board just a half dozen picks later. Taken by the Arizona Cardinals, Niklas will join Michael Floyd catching passes in Arizona, taken 52nd by the Cardinal. Niklas is the 12th tight end in Notre Dame history to be taken in the drafts first two rounds. He joins Tyler Eifert, Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson and Anthony Fasano as recent tight ends selected early.

Interestingly, Arizona tracked Niklas carefully. They also proved Brian Kelly’s point that the 6-foot-6, 270-pounder has only just scratched the surface.

“Probably had he gone back, he would have been a top 10 pick with that skill set,” Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said. “He was more than – in the interview – he was more than ready in his mind and mine also.”

The biggest shock of the evening was the fall of Louis Nix. After looking like a first round pick, Nix slid all the way to the 83rd pick, going to the Houston Texans, where he’ll join Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt on the defensive line. Nix will play for new head coach Bill O’Brien and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, whose 3-4 system should be perfect for Nix.

Joining this trio in the first three rounds was veteran guard Chris Watt. Surprising some by coming off the board so early, Watt was selected by the San Diego Chargers, who see his versatility and ability to compete as a three year starter as a major plus.

“He’s tough and he’s smart and he’s played some solid, excellent football for three years in a major program, so we’re happy to get him,” Chargers general manger Tom Telesco said.

The draft concludes tomorrow with the final four rounds, where several Notre Dame prospects are in the mix to be selected.


  1. ndfenian - May 10, 2014 at 1:05 AM

    Congratulations men. We’ll be following your careers, go Irish!

  2. viktory2013 - May 10, 2014 at 3:37 AM

    These kids took huge amounts of money from their own pockets by bolting early to the NFL. One more season likely would have added several dollars to their respective paychecks, as illustrated by the results and accompanying comments. Particularly Nix and Tuitt, coming off mediocre at best seasons would have helped their own cause by staying another year instead of limping into the draft. Martin and Watt were ready, but even Niklas would have been a year end award contender with 2014 under his belt. Who advises these kids anyway??

    • ndfaithful - May 10, 2014 at 6:19 AM

      who advises them? – hardly anybody Viktory…

      • 1historian - May 10, 2014 at 10:07 AM

        I don’t know about the others but Niklas’ father is on record as supporting his son’s decision.

        I think they all should have given it another year, both for their own futures and for Notre Dame’s success this year.

    • ndoneill - May 10, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      Don’t forget that Nix already graduated. Coming back doesn’t make as much sense after that. Tuitt would have still benefited from another year though.

      • 1historian - May 11, 2014 at 2:08 PM

        Agreed. Good point. Thumbs up.

    • onward2victory - May 10, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      If we’re being honest, Nix should have left after the 2012 season. Hindsight is 20/20 but he would have almost certaintly been a 1st rounder at that point.

  3. coachd8025 - May 10, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Are stars over rated ? The entire 1st round – 32 picks only 4 players were 5 stars and 12 were 3 star recruits. I dont think its a requirement for ND to get alot of 5 star recruits after all.
    After 3 rounds ND is tied with 5 players selected….hmm to all those bashing the Irish it sounds like ND is doing just find to me as it appears that the NFL likes players that have ok talent, very intelligent, have good work ethic and carry no baggage…..hmmmm interesting.


    • wisner74 - May 10, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      The 5-star vs. 3-star observation is interesting, and was also made be someone else several months ago. I thought it was put into perspective though by someone who pointed out that the overall pool of 5-stars is much smaller than 3-stars. The percentage of 5’s taken/available is going to be much higher than for 3’s.

    • ndgoldandblue - May 11, 2014 at 8:28 AM

      You make a good argument for what NFL franchises value. Is it strictly talent, or do they look for guys who would make great teammates and fit into their system? It’s an interesting debate.

      As to your point that the Irish seem to be leading the way with draft picks, my question is, if we had so much NFL talent on our team, why didn’t it translate to wins on the field last year? Some people on this board pinned it all on Rees. Some people think Kelly is to blame. Me? I think it’s a collection of factors:
      1. A defense that got progressively worse the further away from the line that it got. The linemen underperformed, the linebackers were average at best, and the defensive backfield was laughable. I still can’t get the image of Mathias Farley falling down in the Stanford game when Gaffney was running toward him out of my head.

      2. Special teams that belong in the Special Olympics. No need to continue there. Been discussed ad nauseam.

      3. A complete underutilization of the running game. Outside of TJ Jones and Niklas, our best offensive weapons last year were running backs. The Navy game proved how good our running game could have been. It’s a shame we didn’t see it more often. I really hope, this season, we don’t see three straight passes when the situation is 1st and goal from inside the five-yard line. With Folston and Bryant, no reason we can’t run the ball into the end zone.

      4. The marriage between Coach Kelly and Tommy Rees. Like Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn, it was a match made in hell. I thought BK did a better job of coaching in ’12. He just put too much faith in Tommy, and now that he’s gone, I have a feeling that the offense will be a bit more varied and bit less predictable. That’s my hope anyway.

      • nudeman - May 11, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        You pretty much nailed it there. If forced to come up with 4 points I’d probably write the same 4. Naturally I am biased toward #4, but would add this for those who disagree: Yes, we all know Tommy was his only option after EG vomited on himself in the classroom.

        But there were just too damn many times Rees was asked (or opted on his own with his stupid audibling) to do things he couldn’t do. The final INT at Stanford was Exhibit A. Rolling right, throw a bomb back across the field. A pass that probably needed to travel about 65 yards in the air, and In perfect form that night, he threw it late and 15 yards short. WHY WHY WHY even throw that ball or call that pattern? They were driving and it was (I think) 1st down.

        Rees and Kelly. As you say, a match made in hell. Every game they lost, Rees/Kelly made a significant contribution.

      • mtndguy - May 11, 2014 at 11:26 AM

        Great point ndgoldandblue. If Notre Dame could run against Navy, then they certainly could run against anyone. I mean after all Navy is one of the top defenses in the country. Oh, wait a minute, no they’re not. I take that back. That’s a dumb comment.

      • wisner74 - May 11, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        C’mom Nude, I’m trying to officially retire from the Tommy Rees debate. How about you join me?

      • 1historian - May 11, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        Well said – for the most part.


        1) Rees is the only option Kelly had. He (they) did the best he (they) could. Whom else could Kelly have chosen?

        2) Kelly & Rees = Henry VIII & Ann Boleyn – I’m feeling generous and I’m a little more than half in the bag so I’ll just pretend you didn’t say that.

        3) Critique of the D – agreed. Injuries, people not there anymore, and that ever present ‘whatever’ factor. BUT

        4) Manti is gone. Jayson (sp?) is here. Better days are ahead.

        5) The running game – agreed. Better days are ahead.

        BTW – I am NOT replying to you point by point.

        6) ND Special teams = Special Olympics. Cute but not really very nice, as in snarky as in a bit ugly as in I think you said “whoops” after you pressed the send button as in – from your previous posts I think you’re better than that.

        The Special Olympics were held at ND in 1987. Did you know that? Were you there? I was.

        It’s just a game.

      • nudeman - May 11, 2014 at 3:58 PM

        OK wisner … All in.

      • ndgoldandblue - May 11, 2014 at 11:22 PM

        1historian, point taken on the special teams statement. I shouldn’t have insulted the Special Olympics by comparing it to Notre Dame’s recent special teams play. I can’t say that I was there in ’87. I was seven at the time and living several states away. However, I have attended the games recently here in upstate New York, and I must say that it’s inspired and well-organized. Outside of our kickers, I haven’t seen a whole lot of inspired and well-organized play out of the special teams in the last few years. So, you’re right. No need to insult the Special Olympics in that fashion.

        And mtndguy, I love it when posters throw out the “That’s a dumb comment” schtick. What criteria are you using? Pointing out a successful running game against a team that finished the season with the same record as ours constitutes a dumb comment? If your kid has a great game against a decent opponent and tells you that he should be playing more because of it, what are you going to tell him? “That’s a dumb comment.”

      • heartofgoldandblue - May 12, 2014 at 7:04 AM

        NDG&B- not calling your comment dumb but I see where mtndguy is coming from. Record aside Navy was 79th against the run….hardly the benchmark to judge whether you’re able to run the ball or not just because you had success against them.

      • ndgoldandblue - May 12, 2014 at 8:46 AM

        What you say is true, heartofgoldandblue. Hardly a benchmark, indeed. But with the running backs we had, I would have rather seen a more diligent attempt to ride those horses rather than put so much faith in Tommy to win games for us. I’m not insulting Rees. I’m just saying that BK’s faith in Everett to win games for us on his own appeared to be much lower, and we finished 12-0 because of it.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - May 12, 2014 at 9:22 AM

        I was at the special Olympics in ’87. whitney houston sang at the opening ceremony and blew the doors off ND Stadium.

        i’m with wisner on this one. we take jabs at plenty of people here and make fun of just about everyone. sometimes it’s lighthearted, sometimes not. let’s leave special Olympians out of it.

      • runners00 - May 12, 2014 at 10:10 AM

        “If we had so much NFL talent on our team, why didn’t it translate to wins on the field last year?”

        As indicated above, Tuitt and Nix were injured for most of the season. We had a backup quarterback, too, who tried hard to get us some wins but who, honestly, is neither as talented or as driven as the guy he replaced. And his backup lacked the skills needed to run this offense.

  4. nuggets43 - May 10, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    Option 1: Go pro, get drafted 50th, signing bonus over $1M, expect to make $4M over duration of rookie contract if you stay on 53 man roster for at least a few games each season, be eligible for second contract for 2018 season.

    Option 2: Stay in school, have chance to move higher in draft, but also could slide further down draft boards if health/production decline. If player jumps up to 20th player gets $4M signing bonus, expect to make $8-8.5M over duration of rookie contract, and be eligible for second contract for 2019 season.

    If you’re Nix, Tuitt, or Niklas, what are the odds of jumping into the first round in 2015? Obviously not everyone that comes back for their senior season becomes a first rounder. What are the odds any one of those guys would have done that? 25%? 50%? More? Less? Is that chance worth postponing making significant money right now? Is it also worth reducing your number of years in the NFL by one?

    • danno27 - May 10, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      great comment. One thing I would say – Nix is a different discussion than Niklas or Tuitt. Nix is an ND graduate. Makes zero sense for him to return, especially given the typically short careers of defensive linemen.

  5. onward2victory - May 10, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    Aaron Lynch 5th round – ouch.

  6. fnc111 - May 10, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    Niklas would’ve been a top 20 pick next year. It’s just the same old story of guys come to ND and win nothing for the school then go pro.

    This season is going to be rough on the field with all of the inexperience out there. We’ll all be saying what if during the middle of this season. What if so and so stayed? We go from potential final 4 status to lucky to win eight games.

    I doubt it will happen, but I hope Kelly feeds the rock to Folston and Bryant constantly early on this season. A ball control offense will be the only way to win.

  7. mediocrebob - May 10, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    This is very off topic and random, but as I’m watching the Irish lax game ( only reason I’ll watch lax is if it’s the Irish) I really hope that the new turf in ND Stadium has a nice ND at the 50. I know people want “traditional” and I’m fairly traditional as well. However, in this case I think it’d look very cool. Maybe still keep the endzones with the diagonals or something simple.

    Again, just my opinion. Already losing the natural grass and most likely will have a jumbotron. If they’re going turf, make it look good and not bland.

  8. lightskin350 - May 10, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    Whoever Nix is getting advice from he should fire them.

    • onward2victory - May 10, 2014 at 4:37 PM

      You mean Coach Kelly who convinced him to come back for his senior year instead of going early and getting drafted in the 1st round??

      • nuggets43 - May 10, 2014 at 6:02 PM

        Nix you idiot! You’re getting paid to play football in 2014 instead of doing it for free to help my team!

      • mediocrebob - May 10, 2014 at 9:49 PM

        I accidentally reported your comment but all I wanted to do is give it a thumbs down. Sorry

  9. wisner74 - May 10, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    Eight ND players drafted so far, and we’re not in the 7th round yet. Excellent!

  10. danirish - May 10, 2014 at 5:36 PM

    DANG IT! TJ Jones went to the Lions! HIm and Tate! Arrrggghhh! As a Bears fan this is unexceptable!

    Kidding, GO IRISH!

    • wisner74 - May 10, 2014 at 8:35 PM

      Yes, and unacceptable too.

      • danirish - May 11, 2014 at 5:07 AM

        LOL, dern phone!

  11. yllibnosredna - May 10, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    If I remember correctly, Louis Nix’s pre-draft evaluation following the 2012 regular season was like a late 2nd/early 3rd round projection anyways so in many ways, it made perfect sense for him to stay and get his degree and up his draft stock following this past season. Obviously, he got the degree but the injury likely prevented hik from improving his draft stock. Still hard to say he lost out b/c he didn’t bolt after 2012 season.

  12. idratherbeinsouthbend - May 10, 2014 at 10:50 PM


    GAIII has agreed to terms as an undrafted free agent with the Oakland Raiders (which I think we all KNEW would happen)

    …but here’s the shocker…and nudeman, you’re gonna love it.

    The Washington Redskins have agreed to terms with Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame.

    • dillonbigred - May 11, 2014 at 7:57 AM

      Tommy Rees, the next Joe Theisman?

  13. yaketyyacc - May 11, 2014 at 6:33 AM

    whether they should have or not, these young men are in the NFL. good luck to all of our Notre Dame football graduates, in the NFL or not. You all are no 1 draft picks in our book.

  14. bernhtp - May 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    I have mixed feelings on the success of the draft. It was buoyed by two players – Niklas and Tuitt – that should not have been in the draft. They should have stayed to graduate. Even from a purely football standpoint, it likely would have been a wash for them financially since both clearly had first-round potential.

    For the same reason, I don’t expect or want next year’s draft to be anywhere near as good for ND. We have very few upcoming seniors that have the potential for an elite-level year. Maybe Koyack and Daniels will break through, but most of the talent comes from last-season’s underclass such as Russell. I don’t want any of them leaving for the NFL.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - May 11, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      Actually, bern, if you watched Day 2 of the draft, they discussed how Niklas made the better financial decision.

      Because of how rookies contracts have changed and will be changing next year, Niklas going to the draft in 2014 allows him to sign is 2nd contract in 2017. If he would have gone to the draft next year, he would have had to wait until 2020 for his second year contract.

      Because the second contract you sign is typically the most lucrative one, Niklas made the right financial decision. He actually DID the math on it and the right decision.

      As for his degree, he’s one of those guys who will finish it up anyway…during the summer or after he retires.

      • bernhtp - May 11, 2014 at 4:18 PM

        I hope Niklas does return to graduate; most don’t. I hope he makes it to his second contract; many don’t.

  15. mattymill - May 12, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    Any other Bears fans out there pissed they didn’t take Nix? I never expected him to still be available for the Bears’ 2nd round pick – not only was he – he was still there for their 3rd round pick. Well, maybe they didn’t need a DT, you may say. Took DTs with both 2nd & 3rd round picks. Holy hell!

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