The picks are coming in fast and furious. Here's the recap from the 11th and 12th rounds.
11.01 (UHND) – Darius Fleming, OLB
"This might be a bit of a reach, but in looking for an OLB to start opposite Bert Berry it’s slim pickings. Fleming has led the Irish in tackles for loss the past two seasons and led the team with 6 sacks in 2010. A similar season campaign in 2011 and Fleming will end his career in the top 5 TFL all time at Notre Dame." - Frank
11.02 (Domer Law) - Brandon Hoyte, LB
11.03 (Her Loyal Sons) - Kyle McCarthy, S
"First DB in ND history to tally more than 100 tackles in a single season. Oh those were good times." - domer_mq
11.04 (WeNeverGraduate) - Gary Gray, CB
"Time to get Awesome Rossum some company in the secondary. This may seem like a bit of a reach to some, but the reality is that Gary Gray is the best cover corner of the last ten years not named Shane Walton. Throw in the fact that he's a phenomenal tackler from that position and it's a no-brainer." - Mattare
11.05 (Subway Domer) - Darrin Walls, CB
"The formation of my defensive backfield is complete. You will bow down and fear me." - Subway Domer
11.06 (Irish Illustrated) - Courtney Watson, LB
"Watson led Notre Dame in tackles as a junior and senior, earning some All-American notice before getting picked in the second round of the draft. Aside from Te’o, he’s also one of the few Irish linebackers with legitimate speed in the past decade. Watson gives my team a boost of athleticism at linebacker." - Pete
12.01 (Irish Illustrated) - Jordan Black, OT
"I’ve got to add to the offensive line and some point, so why not do it with a four-year starter who can play guard or tackle? Black was a solid offensive lineman throughout his Irish career and gives my team a reliable cog on the front. Black’s mean streak doesn’t hurt his cause." - Pete
12.02 (Subway Domer) - Rocky Boiman, OLB
"Boiman was a non-stop terror for the Irish, and he went on to have a 7 year career in the NFL. If you knew nothing else of Boiman, you have to know that he rocked out to Metallica before every game. The announcers were obsessed with this, and rarely failed to mention as much every Saturday... on NBC, at least." - Subway Domer
12.03 (WeNeverGraduate) - Anthony Denman, LB
"Denman is often one of the most overlooked defensive stars of the past two decades, but anyone who has vivid memories of the 2000 Nebraska game remembers the beating he laid on Eric Crouch on what seemed like every other play. He lettered all four years, started his last two, and in his final season led the team in tackles, tackles for a loss, and forced fumbles. His quickness and aggressiveness are going to be perfect alongside Michael Stonebreaker in the front seven." - Mattare
12.04 (Her Loyal Sons) - Rhema McKnight, WR
"...pre-knee injury, if I may. Definitely in my top-5 all time "oh what might have been..." - domer_mq
12.05 (Domer Law) - Ryan Leahy, G
12.06 (UHND) - John Merandi, C
"Merandi often gets overlooked by his successor, Jeff Faine, but Merandi was no sloutch as a two year starter. Merandi also started along side an earlier pick of mine, Mike Gandy." - Frank
- - - - - - - - - -
I felt I couldn't wait any longer to lock up another cornerback because to say the pickings become slim would be an understatement on par with "the loss to Southern Cal and '05 was disappointing" and "The Day After Tomorrow's plot had some holes." Gary Gray had a couple lowlights last season (it's tough to forgive him for completely giving up on that pass over his head against Navy), but by and large he was incredibly consistent and productive.
Gray is a ferocious tackler with pretty good ball skills, especially when you compare him to what we're used to seeing this decade. I think there's a legitimate chance that he plays himself into the 2nd-3rd round range of the NFL Draft this year and clearly establishes himself as the best Irish cornerback in almost ten years. I'm very comfortable pairing him with Rossum; I have a hunch if we held this draft at the end of the 2011 season that Gray we be long gone at this point.
In round 12 I locked down one of the most underrated linebackers in Irish history, Anthony Denman. Ol' #39 was a key cog in a strong Bob Davie defense, a hard-hitting, sound tackler that was a captain and MVP of the entire team his senior season.
I was tempted to pass on Denman because Michael Stonebreaker already occupies the middle linebacker position in my 4-3 alignment, but he's got plenty of experience on the outside from when he back up Kory Minor his first two years on campus. There's a good chance he never would have budged had ND not been so starved for middle linebackers after Bobbie Howard and Jimmy Friday graduated. He's proven before he has no problem shifting positions for the good of the team so outside linebacker it is.
With Denman and Stonebreaker lying in waiting behind my rock solid front line it's going to be damn near impossible to move the ball against my defense. We're looking prettaaaaaay, prettaaaaaay, prettaaaay good!