The first NFL Draft was held Feb. 8, 1936, with William Shakespeare — the quarterback/punter, not the renowned bard — becoming the initial Notre Dame player ever selected (No. 3 overall).
Running back Theo Riddick could add to Notre Dame’s list of NFL Draft picks, which would help the Irish gain ground on USC for first place in that area.
Notre Dame’s 471 total draft picks rank second only to USC, which has 475. The top five is rounded out with Ohio State (402), Oklahoma (355) and Nebraska (342). First-round selections also are paced by Trojans (77), followed by the Buckeyes (67) and the Fighting Irish (63).
Here’s a look at some facts and figures of Notre Dame’s draft history on the eve of this year's show in New York City:
1 Linebacker from Notre Dame who has ever been drafted in the first round — Irish all-time leading tackler Bob Crable in 1982. That is the fewest of any position group at Notre Dame. Current senior Manti Te’o, who bypassed the draft last year, could join Crable in that exclusive company.
2 Notre Dame players selected in the first round last year: wideout Michael Floyd (13th to Arizona) and safety Harrison Smith (29th to Minnesota). Notre Dame hadn’t had multiple first-round picks in one year since 1994, when it had three with defensive lineman Bryant Young (seventh), offensive lineman Aaron Taylor (16th) and defensive back Jeff Burris (27th).
If Te’o and tight end Tyler Eifert are both selected in the first round this season as many project, it would be only the fourth time in Notre Dame history that the school produced multiple first-round picks in consecutive years. The others were 1944-46, 1954-55 and 1993-94.
3 Times since the turn of the 21st century Notre Dame had only one player drafted: 2000 (quarterback Jarious Jackson), 2009 (safety David Bruton) and 2011 (tight end Kyle Rudolph). Prior to that, Notre Dame had zero or one player selected only three times: 1998 (cornerback/return man Allen Rossum), 1977 (none) and 1937 (none).
4 First-round NFL Draft picks for Notre Dame between 1995-2011 — after having four alone in 1993 (Rick Mirer, Jerome Bettis, Tom Carter and Irv Smith) followed by the aforementioned three in 1994. The four since 1995 were defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn (1997), offensive tackle Luke Petitgout (1999), center Jeff Faine (2003) and quarterback Brady Quinn (2007). Notre Dame used to be the leader in first-round picks, but has now fallen well behind USC (77-63). Since 2000, USC has had 17 first-round selections compared to Notre Dame’s four.
5 Times a Notre Dame alumnus has been taken No. 1 overall, which is tied with USC for most by a program. The five were quarterbacks Angelo Bertelli (1943), Frank Dancewicz (1946) and Paul Hornung (1957), two-way end Leon Hart (1950) and defensive end Walt Patulski (1972). Bertelli, Hart and Hornung all won the Heisman, and Patulski received the Lombardi Award as a senior.
6 Tights ends chosen in the NFL Draft since 2001 who have played at Notre Dame, the best showing by the Irish at any single position. The half dozen were Jabari Holloway (fourth round), John Owens (fifth round), Jerome Collins (sixth round), and then Anthony Fasano, John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph — each in the second round. Eifert might become the highest pick of them all tonight, and the first to go in the first round in 20 years (Irv Smith in 1993).
7 Rounds the NFL has had since 1994, a year when Notre Dame had 10 players selected after its 11-1 record in 1993. The most it has had since then is seven in 1999 (after a 9-3 season), 2003 (after a 10-3 campaign) and 2007 (after back-to-back 9-3 and 10-3 finishes).
8 Defensive linemen from Notre Dame selected in the first round during the halcyon years from 1964-80 under head coaches Ara Parseghian and Dan Devine — with the common link of Joe Yonto as their defensive line coach. Those eight were Alan Page (1967), Kevin Hardy (1968), Mike McCoy (1970), Walt Patulski and Mike Kadish (1972), Mike Fanning (1975), Steve Niehaus (1976) and Ross Browner (1978). The Irish have had only three in the 34 years since then from 1979-2012 — Eric Dorsey in 1986, Bryant Young in 1994 and Renaldo Wynn in 1997. 2013 senior Louis Nix III and junior Stephon Tuitt have a chance to end the drought (but hopefully not both in 2014).
9 Notre Dame players taken in the first three rounds of the draft from the 1990 recruiting class, easily the program's best single-season haul in the last 40 years. Those nine were fullback Jerome Bettis, cornerback Tom Carter, defensive lineman Bryant Young, offensive lineman Aaron Taylor and safety Jeff Burris in the first round, center Tim Ruddy in the second, and defensive lineman Jim Flanigan, defensive back Willie Clark and wide receiver Lake Dawson in the third. That is one of the best standards to use for what constitutes a “great recruiting class.”
10 Players selected from Notre Dame in the four-year periods from 2008-11 and 2009-12. It had only one in 2011 with junior tight end Kyle Rudolph and one in 2009 with safety David Bruton. That is the fewest the Irish have ever had selected over a four-year period.
Such a trend is expected to be dramatically reversed in upcoming years.