Tom Colton: Top 5 Notre Dame Football Alumni to Watch in the NFL
The 2018 NFL season is still months away, but Tom Colton is already pumped. Several teams have just kick-started their offseason workout programs so now seems like a good time to take a step back and look at how ND alumni have been doing in their pro careers.
Every year the Fighting Irish sends off a player or two, or half a dozen to the NFL. In 2016, 7 players were successfully signed. In 2014, it was 8, while last year was slim pickings with 2. Among these young gentlemen, Tom Colton has his eye on the following:
1. Michael Floyd – Tom Colton says he still vividly remembers Michael Floyd’s dramatic senior season. After being suspended for drunk driving, Floyd returned to the team stronger than ever, shattering one record after another. He finished his senior year with 100 receptions for 1,147 yards and 9 touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. He left the Fighting Irish with 271 catches for 3,686 yards and 37 touchdowns, school records that have yet to be beat. Tom Colton hopes Floyd is healthier now, after being suspended by the NFL for substance abuse last year.
2. Ronnie Stanley – For Tom Colton, what makes Ronnie Stanley deserving of your attention in the upcoming NFL seasons is his impressive debut with the Baltimore Ravens. Stanley helped Joe Flacco post a team-record of 4,317 passing yards among other career highlights. Prior to his arrival at ND, Stanley was ranked as a four-star recruit and the 15th best offensive tackle prospect of his class. During his senior year, he allowed only 4 QB hurries, 4 QB hits, and 3 sacks. He signed with the Ravens for a guaranteed four-year $20.48 million contract and $13.09 million signing bonus. Not bad.
3. Will Fuller – Another four-star recruit that went on to shine as a Fighting Irish, Will Fuller signed with the Houston Texans in 2016. In his sophomore year, he posted 76 receptions for 1,094 yards with 15 touchdowns. Tom Colton thinks Fuller still has a lot of room to grow, his potential being carried by his quick feet and insane speed. Tom Colton hopes to see more action from Fuller with the Texans’ offense, but he figures that might have to wait since DeAndre Hopkins just got a five-year contract extension from the Texans.
4. Zack Martin – The MVP of the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl, Zack Martin was phenomenal and instrumental in the Fighting Irish’s 29-16 win over Rutgers. Tom Colton points out that Martin has racked up an impressive resume. He’s a 4x Pro Bowl player, 2x First-time All-Pro, PFWA All-Rookie and second-team All American. In the NFL, he’s No. 58 on the list of Top 100 Players of the NFL in 2017.
5. Jaylon Smith – Tom Colton wishes that more people would recognize Jaylon Smith. Before signing with Notre Dame, he was named the best outside linebacker recruit of his class and his college career proved why. The linebacker was also named the FBS Independent Co-Defensive Player of the Year with Joe Schmidt IV. A second-team All-American and recipient of the Butkus Award, Smith’s injuries have just set him back from becoming a superstar with the Cowboys but Tom Colton believes he’s breakthrough moment will come sooner rather than later.