We're more than halfway through the draft and there are just a few holes left to plug in the starting lineups.
17.01 (UHND) - Craig Hentrich, P/K
"This may be a reach here since I have plenty of other needs, but I want to maximize my roster and Hentrich takes up 2 spots with 1 pick. Hentrich was easily the best punter at Notre Dame in the last 20 years and until David Ruffer came along and made his first 23 field goals, he was easily the best place kicker at Notre Dame in the last 20 years too. Ruffer still has some work to do to match Hentrich, but there still hasn't been anyone to experience as much consistent success both kicking and punting at ND in the last 20 years as Hentrich." - Frank
17.02 (Domer Law) - Bob Dahl, DE
17.03 (Her Loyal Sons) - David Ruffer, K
"Yep. A kicker. It's getting too late in the game to risk any of you taking the most clutch kicker available in the pool." - domer_mq
17.04 (WeNeverGraduate) - Nick Setta, K/P
"Uh ohhh, time to alter the strategy for the next two rounds. If there's one thing you don't want to be on the wrong side of it's a run on Notre Dame kickers of the last two decades. Kevin Kopka? Jim Sanson? Carl Gioia? Woof. Give me the golden right foot of Nick Setta and I'll set for both kicking and punting." - Mattare
17.05 (Subway Domer) - Sean Mahan, G/C
"Sean could play either guard or center for the Subway Domer Disciples... OH SNAP!!!" - Subway Domer
17.06 (Irish Illustrated) - Zack Martin, OT
"This might seem like a reach, but Martin was the best offensive lineman on last year’s solid front as a red-shirt freshman, making him better than two-year and three-year starters. Don’t be surprised if he ends up as Notre Dame’s highest draft pick along the line since Jeff Faine. Size, speed and strength, Martin can do it all." - Pete
18.01 (Irish Illustrated) - Kevin McDougal, QB
"Everybody needs a good back-up quarterback and mine 11-1 as a starter during the ’93 season. Take that, Tommy Rees. McDougal backed up Rick Mirer once and he’ll do it again on my squad. For a one-year starter, it’s amazing how many fans rank McDougal as their all-time favorite Notre Dame quarterback." - Pete
18.02 (Subway Domer) - Jeremy Akers, G
"ALL-AMERICAN." - Subway Domer
18.03 (WeNeverGraduate) - Lee Becton, RB
"This team has officially morphed into a team that will run fifty times a game so I need another horse to accompany Reggie Brooks in the backfield. Becton was a hard runner with great vision, hands. and ankle-breaking wiggle. When Reggie needs a blow Becton will be able to step in and the offense won't miss a beat." - Mattare
18.04 (Her Loyal Sons) - Mike Richardson, CB
"I'm as surprised as you are. Much like when I was totally stunned to see him come out in 2005 as a real asset to the defense. Kid couldn't cover me the year prior, and by mid-2005, he was baiting opposing QBs into throwing to his side of the field for picks. At this point, I've got no idea what I'm doing, but I need a safety, and this kid." - domer_mq
18.05 (Domer Law) - Maurice Crum Jr., LB
""Versatile and consistent, but also capable of taking over a game a la UCLA 2007" - Wacko
18.06 (UHND) - Derek Landri, DE
"My team is going to run a 3-4 defense and I already have my 3 starting DL's but there's no way I can pass up Landri this late in the draft. I can't believe he is still available. It was only 4 years ago Landri had his breakout season with 15.5 tackles for loss playing on a bad defense. Landri will get worked in as a DE in my defense." - Frank
19.01 (UHND) - Mike Goolsby, ILB
"I need another ILB to play alongside Bobbie Howard and Goolsby fits the bill perfectly. He's big and can drop back into coverage if need be. Goolsby gives me a linebacking corps of Bert Berry, Darius Fleming, Bobbie Howard, and Goolsby. Me likey." - Frank
19.02 (Domer Law) - Chinedum Ndukwe, S
19.03 (Her Loyal Sons) - Jerry Wisne, G
"A 1995 USA and Parade All-American." - domer_mq
19.04 (WeNeverGraduate) - Rodney Culver, FB
"The assembly of a monster backfield continues with #5 Rodney Culver. Culver was a captain and multi-year starter who shifted between fullback and tailback, but I'm plugging him into the fullback position in order to give my offense a dangerous threat right up the middle. Culver started at fullback as a junior and rushed for 700+ yards. That ability to gash the heart of the opposition will be huge in keeping defenses off-balanced." - Mattare
19.05 (Subway Domer) - Mike Heldt, C
"Because everyone has a little CAPTAIN in them." - Subway Domer
19.06 (Irish Illustrated) - Eric Olsen, G
"Despite not exactly taking my tweet about B.J. Raji correctly, I still like Olsen as a starting guard for my squad. Tough guy look, solid tats, just everything you’d want in an offensive lineman. Solid interview as well, which always plays well with the media." - Pete
20.01 (Irish Illustrated) - Scott Kowalkowski, OLB
"I’ve got a starting linebacker and special teams buzz saw in Kowalkowski. He’s not on par athletically with my other two starting linebackers, but he’ll bring a diehard attitude to the field that won’t be denied." - Pete
20.02 (Subway Domer) - Tyreo Harrison, OLB
"Harrison is athletic and gives me a quicker LB to go along with my power defensive front. Tyreo was underrated then as much as he is now. My plan is coming together like an all night drug binge with Charlie Sheen and Tom Sizemore." - Subway Domer
20.03 (WeNeverGraduate) - Justin Hall, OT
"Hall started at right tackle for the Irish from '90-'92. I don't know if you've heard, but we ran the ball really, really well those years. We'll bump Todd Norman to right guard where he started as a junior and recreate the right side of that '92 line that paved the way for Brooks and Bettis." - Mattare
20.04 (Her Loyal Sons) - Carlo Calabrese, MLB
"I think what we saw of the defense last year owed a lot to what Carlo can do against interior runs." - domer_mq
20.05 (Domer Law) - DJ Fitzpatrick, K/P
20.06 (UHND) - Harrison Smith, S
"I have long been a fan of Smith - even when he was this most maligned Irish defensive back this side of Clifford Jefferson. Once he was finally given a permanent position that he could excel at, he stepped up and delivered the game sealing INT against USC and then 3 picks in the Sun Bowl. Smith will be a captain for '11, but even if he never made another big play again, he'd still be the player who put the final nail in USC's coffin to end that awful losing streak to Southern Cal." - Frank
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I won't lie to you: Pete's selection of Kevin McDougal dropped an atomic bomb on my team. Everything had lined up so perfectly at every position, I was absolutely thrilled. When I woke up this morning I made a list of what I wanted my next six picks to be and at the top of it was McDougal.
I thought for sure he'd slip back to me. The only people picking were Subway Domer (who had Jimmy Clausen) and Pete (who had Rick Mirer). Forget the fact that we're not drafting full rosters and there's almost no need for a backup quarterback; those two were so set that there was no reason they'd need one period.
Then I received the email with Pete's selections. My heart dropped through the floor.
Whether he was legitimately concerned about having a backup quarterback or if he just wanted to cripple my team I do not know. I'd lean toward the latter, but frankly with my defense coming at his quarterback in waves and waves against a marginal defensive line there's probably a good chance he'll need to lean on a backup. Either way it was horrendous news for my team.
I regrouped though and altered my board. We were always going to be a running team, it's just been jacked up to a new level since the signal caller will not be Kevin McDougal as I'd assumed. First, I found Reggie Brooks a tag team partner in the backfield. Lee Becton wasn't the burner that Brooks was and his lack of speed ultimately kept him from having a successful NFL career, but he was a 1,000 yard rusher on the '93 squad and tough, incredibly shifty runner.
I'm sure plenty of younger Irish fans have no idea who he is, so let's educate with the magic of YouTube. Pay close attention to how he completely freezes a Florida State defensive back with a subtle little move at the 50-yard line at the 36 second mark and the Boston College linebacker that gets his ankles broken so bad that he just face plants at the 1:29 mark.
He's one of the forgotten and underrated backs of the last thirty years. He'll be a great addition.
Next I nabbed Rodney Culver (RIP). Culver was the lone team captain his senior season and a damn good runner capable of gashing the interior as a fullback or tailback. I want to be able to feed someone on the fullback dive and know I can pick up almost five yards every time. Looking at the other rosters in this draft, there's not one defensive line (with the exception of possibly UHND's) that will be able to contain a three-headed monster of Brooks-Becton-Culver running behind the hogs I've assembled up front.
Speaking of those hogs, Justin Hall was added to the mix in the 20th round. He's another forgotten guy but he held down the right tackle position from '90-'92 and found a lot of success pairing with Todd Norman to clear holes in the defense. Just ask Spurrier and his Gators how much they enjoyed going against Hall and Norman in the '92 Sugar Bowl--all three of Bettis' fourth quarter touchdowns were run right behind that duo.
I couldn't feel any better about the offensive line I've assembled. The big decision will be what signal caller they'll be keeping upright...and that's something I just can't answer yet.