April 27, 2008
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A total of four former Notre Dame football players watched their immediate football future's unfold on live television this weekend as they were selected in the 2008 NFL Draft. Tight end John Carlson, defensive tackle Trevor Laws, safety Tom Zbikowski and center John Sullivan became the latest Irish to advance to the NFL.
Notre Dame has had 11 players drafted in the last two years, the most in consecutive drafts since 2003-04 when 12 Irish were taken. The breakdown has been almost split the past two drafts as six defensive players have been selected to five offensive players. The six defensive players drafted over the last two years are the most since six Irish defenders were selected in 2001-02.
Carlson was first off the board as the Seattle Seahawks traded up to snag the tight end with the seventh selection in the second round and 38th pick overall. The fifth-year senior from Litchfield, Minn. was the second tight end drafted this year and was the earliest Irish tight end taken since Irv Smith was selected with the 20th pick in the 1993 draft by New Orleans.
Laws was the next Irish player to go as the Philadelphia Eagles chose a member of the Notre Dame defensive line in the second round for the second year in a row. Laws will be reunited with his former roommate, Victor Abiamiri, in the City of Brotherly Love as the Eagles used their first selection of the draft (47th overall) on Laws. The 6-1, 301-pounder became the second Notre Dame defensive tackle selected in as many drafts (Derek Landri, 2007) and was the earliest Irish defensive tackle taken since Bryant Young was selected with the seventh pick in 1994 by San Francisco.
With the third round moved to Sunday for the first time, Zbikowski was the first Notre Dame grad to hear his name on April 27. The Baltimore Ravens used their second pick of the second day on the safety from Arlington Heights, Ill., as Zbikowski became the third Irish defensive back taken in the last two years (Mike Richardson, New England and Chinedum Ndukwe, Cincinnati both in 2007). The Ravens took the two-time Notre Dame captain with the 23rd pick in the third round (86th overall).
Sullivan was the fourth center drafted and was taken by the Minnesota Vikings with the 21st pick of the sixth round. He became the first Notre Dame center drafted since Jeff Faine was taken with the 21st pick in the 2003 draft by Cleveland. Over the last three drafts, four Irish offensive lineman have been selected (Dan Stevenson, New England, 2006; Ryan Harris, Denver and Dan Santucci, Cleveland in 2007).
As of Monday morning, three players that were not drafted quickly signed with NFL teams as free agents following the NFL Draft: linebacker Joe Brockington signed with Buffalo, long snapper J.J. Jansen signed with Green Bay while running back Travis Thomas will join former teammate and co-captain Brady Quinn in Cleveland.