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Rachel Terlep
Rachel Terlep
Notre Dame beat writer Rachel Terlep offers scribbles and stories about Fighting Irish sports.



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Notre Dame may have its first trio of NFL first-rounders in 20 years

Zack Martin, Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt have a chance to get picked up in the first round of Thursday's NFL Draft. 

Posted on May 8, 2014 at 12:07 p.m.

Thursday, May 8, marks the first time in 20 years that three Notre Dame players may get chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft.

In 1994, defensive tackle Bryant Young (No. 7), tackle Aaron Taylor (16) and defensive back Jeff Burris (27) went in the first round. Zack Martin, Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt give Notre Dame a chance to match that that mark.

Martin's first-round hopes are all but guaranteed. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock told The Chicago Tribune that Martin is "about as safe a player as there is in this draft."

Nix and Tuitt aren't as safe. Injuries hampered both of them throughout the 2014 season, knocking their draft stock to the late-first or early-second rounds. 

The NFL Draft starts 8 p.m. Thursday, May 8. Here's an aggregate of mock drafts from CBSSports.com, NFL.com, ESPN.com and SI.com to see where Notre Dame's top prospects might land.

Zack Martin, offensive tackle/guard
Height/weight: 6-foot-4, 308 pounds
What they're saying about him: 

  • "Martin's versatility makes him an ideal fit for the Dolphins as a potential swing player along the line." — Bucky Brooks, NFL.com
  • "(Martin) is a great fit. The Ravens need a right tackle following the free-agency departure of Michael Oher, and Martin is a really good value here." — Todd McShay, ESPN.com.
  • "'Most versatile lineman I've seen come out in the draft in the last 10 years,' one assistant GM tell me." — Peter King, SI.com.

Draft projection:  Martin looks like an early- to mid-first round lock, cracking the top 10 on ESPN.com (9th, Buffalo Bills) and projecting as low as 15th (Steelers) from draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. CBSSports and SI.com's Peter King agree that Martin will go in the 12th pick to the New York Giants.

Louis Nix, nose guard
Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 349 pounds
What they're saying about him:

  • "(The San Diego Chargers) need help in the middle of their line in the worst way. I think this would be a steal for them." — Pete Prisco, CBSSports.
  • "When fully healthy and in shape, Nix's talent is obvious. Add in his non-stop motor and passion for the game, and Nix should be a productive starter in the NFL for a long time, provided he's able to stay healthy." — Dan Kadar, SBNation.

Draft projection: Nix looks like a late first round pick, lingering in the high 20s in most projections. The Chargers (25th) have been keen on Nix. If that doesn't pan out, the Patriots (29th) need a big guy in the middle and Nix may be their answer.

Stephon Tuitt, defensive end
Height/weight: 6-foot-6, 312 pounds.
What they're saying about him:

  • "An inconsistent junior season has Tuitt's stock slipping but his length and physicality make him an intriguing five-technique candidate." — Rob Rang, CBSSports.
  • "Tuitt is similar in a lot of ways to former Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith. He may not blow you away with sensational plays, but he's a steady factor up front capable of playing the run and the pass." — Dan Kadar, SBNation.

Draft projection: Tuitt's stock has slipped to the late first round and even the early second round. SBNation.com has Tuitt going 33rd to the Texans as the first pick in the second round. NFL.com has Tuitt going 30th to 49ers or 32nd to Seahakws. ESPN.com ranks Tuitt 27th in its Top 32. Tuitt is where Manti Te'o was a year ago. The talent for the first round but wouldn't surprise anyone if he went in the early second round.

Tomorrow, we'll examine Troy Niklas, T.J. Jones and Prince Shembo and their chances for getting picked in Friday's second and third round.




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