Alohi Gilman
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NFL Draft Mad Libs: Former Notre Dame safety Alohi Gilman

Editor’s Note: Some may take this as a means of doing less work, combining both a draft preview with a draft recap. The truth is, it should be seen as a peek behind the curtain. A draft recap is written long ahead of time, leaning heavily on repurposing the draft preview, so as to publish quickly upon the announcement of the pick. The thought is, this might be a more light-hearted approach. These days, light-hearted approaches are the way to go, though perhaps the NFL’s approach to draft logistics is taking that too seriously.

From two-star recruit, if that, to freshman starter at Navy racking up a dozen tackles against Notre Dame, to casualty of the NCAA’s stubbornness, to Irish captain, to NFL draft pick. Alohi Gilman’s ascension through the ranks of football took another step Saturday when the insert NFL team name here picked the safety with the No. ___ overall pick in the ___th-round.

Not much more needs to be said. Gilman transferred from Navy in order to pursue his NFL aspirations after the military flipped a rule granting athletes a chance to chase professional possibilities before fulfilling their service obligations, a decision since switched back to the allowance. To put it simply, he then made good on that dream.

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While Gilman’s sub-6-foot stature will not do wonders for his NFL career, his nose for contact will. If nothing else, he should find a role on special teams for the next couple seasons, giving him a runway to once again level up.

Gilman becomes the first Irish safety drafted since Zeke Motta in 2013’s seventh round. Gilman and Jalen Elliott completely revamped a position that had been a Notre Dame liability for years, most notably in 2016’s debacle, when all the safeties combined did not intercept a pass and broke up only five.

In 2019 alone, Gilman had an interception and two breakups, along with 74 tackles including three for loss and three forced fumbles. (Note: That is not a Mad Libs item; that is an emphasis on an eye-popping stat, underscoring the aforementioned “nose for contact.”)

His Irish career highlight may have come in a humbling loss, making 19 tackles against Clemson in the 2018 College Football Playoff. He totaled 169 tackles, three interceptions and six pass breakups in just two seasons, as well as six forced fumbles. (Again.) His first two interceptions came against Syracuse in Yankee Stadium in mid-November of 2018, a comedy only in that he had been around the ball much of the season, just never completing the play until then.

Gilman may have to wait that long again in the NFL, but his track record indicates a breakthrough is more a matter of “when” than of “if.”

Insert comments on Gilman’s initial salary, with the numbers drawn from Spotrac.com’s database. Plug in that he is Notre Dame’s ___th draft pick this season, following defensive end Julian Okwara, tight end Cole Kmet, receiver Chase Claypool, defensive end Khalid Kareem and cornerback Troy Pride. Adjust that to match the order of selection.

Elliott yet waits to hear his name, though many mock drafts suggested he would end up a top-tier undrafted free agent. Running back Tony Jones and defensive end Jamir Jones (no relation) also still have hopes of being drafted, albeit quite slim hopes.

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