On Monday, head coach Brian Kelly spoke with reporters via Zoom to discuss the nine former Notre Dame players selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Here are some of the topics he addressed.
On Recruiting Potential NFL Players to Notre Dame
“If you just look at our situation, in particular, with nine players being drafted again, it’s so much more about preparing them. The total preparation is not just in the physical, it’s certainly in the mental preparation as well. These guys had to go through a pandemic and play during a very difficult time.
“They’re evaluated in all phases. When we’re recruited to Notre Dame, we’ve got to have somebody that can handle all phases of student life here. It’s not just whether they put a football helmet on and run out of the tunnel and play. They’ve got to handle all those things.
“Obviously, we’ve done a really good job of, when they leave here, they’re able to handle the day-to-day and they have proven that. That’s why there are so many teams that are trusting these picks as being Notre Dame players that are fully developed.”
On What LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is Bring to the Cleveland Browns
“A playmaker. We talked so much about playmakers on offense. [Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator] Joe Woods is going to get a guy on defense that he can really put into a number of different situations, whether it’s a linebacker situation, a nickel situation, at safety. He’s a guy that gives them so much flexibility with him on the field. At the end of the day, he finds the football.
“To me this game, we can make it as complicated as we want, but some have a knack of getting to the football and Jeremiah is the guy that closes, gets the football and when he gets there, he’s pretty disruptive.”
On QB Ian Book Going to the New Orleans Saints
“He possesses so many of the other intangibles at that the position. If you just throw on the film and you’ll see that he spins it well. Obviously, there’s the accuracy, the ability to escape and make plays outside the pocket. He’s been through it, right.
“He’s in one of the most recognizable quarterback positions in the entire country, and he’s seen the ups and downs and persevered as being the all-time winningest quarterback [at Notre Dame]. He brings so many intangibles that nobody really can compete with, and then he can play the position.
“New Orleans, obviously, is a great fit. They’ve already been with a quarterback that is 6-0 and recognizes that you don’t throw over defensive linemen, you throw around them. So Ian we will do quite well there.”
On the Significance of Ian Book Being Draft in the Fourth Round Given a Lack of Recent Success at Developing NFL Quarterback
“I’m not sure how to answer the question. I think we’ve had success with quarterbacks. My job is to win football games and develop our players to the best of their ability. Whether that means that they become great NFL players, we’re going to prepare them the best we can and sometimes it’s out of our control what happens at that next level.
“They got to get in the right place, the right fit, things of that nature. I understand what you’re referring to relative to the offensive linemen and tight ends because we certainly have more of those, but we’ve had a receiver, I think, drafted every year other than maybe 2017.
“Quarterbacks is a little bit more difficult, right? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people would have never thought Ian Book was going to get picked in the fourth round. Now he’s got a chance to compete for a starting position. That’s the one that’s a little bit of an outlier.
“We have Tommy Rees here, who’s played the position. I have great trust in his ability to develop our quarterbacks. We’ve done a pretty good job of developing a quarterback that can help us win games and we expect to do the same moving forward.”
On the Maturity Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah Displayed While at Notre Dame
“Jeremiah is a very bright young man. He has a perspective that is fit for all situations. He never becomes too emotional. You’re never going to see him too high or too low.
“When he did have the injury [as a sophomore], he did not fall off the map. In other words, he stayed engaged with the football team, he stayed engaged with what we were doing on a day-to-day basis. That allows somebody to make the transition back and have success.
“If you lose that contact when you’re going through an injury, it makes it a lot more difficult to feel comfortable with the group, the locker room, the relationships and Jeremiah never lost that.
“That says a lot about his maturity. He’s a man, and he’s going to be able to handle himself in the locker room in Cleveland, and he’s going to be respected because of his maturity. Certainly, they’ll respect him when he’s making plays on the field, but I think off the field, he’s going to carry a lot of respect in the community.
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