The NFL waited and waited before splurging on cornerbacks this draft. Then it rifled through a dozen of them before getting to a consensus first-team All-American. Former Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love had to wait to the draft’s third day before finally hearing his name in the fourth round when the New York Giants drafted him No. 108 overall.
Despite the delay, Love became the first Irish cornerback drafted since KeiVarae Russell went in the third round in 2016 at No. 74 overall.
Love finished his Irish career with 176 career tackles and five interceptions to go with 38 pass breakups. With his 20 breakups in 2017, Love holds both the season and career Notre Dame records, despite leaving a season of eligibility unused. His 63 tackles, one interception, three fumble recoveries and 15 pass breakups in 2018 earned Love consensus first-team All-American honors.
He also managed four defensive touchdowns in his career, including a 42-yard fumble return at Virginia Tech in October, perhaps establishing himself as a playmaker who can create something out of nothing in an NFL secondary.
Love’s fall further illustrates Notre Dame’s struggles to produce NFL defensive talent for a generation now. In the last 25 years, only three Notre Dame defenders have been first-round picks, including defensive tackle Jerry Tillery this year at No. 28. During Brian Kelly’s Irish tenure, only three more have been drafted in the second-round: linebacker Manti Te’o in 2013 (No. 38 overall), end Stephon Tuitt in 2014 (No. 46) and linebacker Jaylon Smith in 2016 (No. 34).