Notre Dame has sent more players into the NFL draft than it had in any year since 1994’s 10. Receiver Ben Skowronek going to the Los Angeles Rams in the seventh round at No. 249 overall gave the Irish nine total draft picks, topping the 2014 peak of eight during the Brian Kelly era.
A graduate transfer from Northwestern, Skowronek gave Notre Dame a tall target on the outside as the younger receivers struggled to find traction. Highlighted by three touchdowns in a win at Boston College, Skowronek caught 29 passes for 439 yards and five touchdowns in his one season wearing a gold helmet.
“Obviously, it is a talented receiver class this year, but I believe I’m one of the most unique prospects in this draft with my height, weight and speed, as well as my physicality, my ball skills, just my overall football skills,” Skowronek said in March. “You can pop on the tape and I’m going to set myself apart from the majority of those prospects, so yeah, it obviously is a deep receiver class but I’m very confident in my ability.”
Though he did not enjoy the pre-draft rise that Miles Boykin and Chase Claypool did the last two years, Skowronek makes it three years in a row that Notre Dame’s best red-zone receiver was drafted. Looking at the 2021 roster, that could serve as a carrot for senior receiver Kevin Austin as he gets healthy after breaking his foot twice last season.
Offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer leads the crop of Irish players to go undrafted, with cornerback Nick McCloud also of note, and Skowronek’s bookend Javon McKinley hoping to catch on somewhere, as well.