Kyle Rudolph may have gotten all the attention from Notre Dame fans with being the only Irish player drafted during April’s NFL draft, but several Notre Dame players still wanted to continue on of living their dream of playing professional football.
That dream came true for four different former Irish players on Tuesday, the first official day when NFL teams could sign undrafted rookie free agents.
Ian Williams signed a deal with the San Francisco 49ers, Brian Smith signed with the Cleveland Browns, Darrin Walls with the Atlanta Falcons and Chris Stewart with the New York Jets. There is still no word on Armando Allen, Robert Hughes and other players who have since left the school, but look for that to come out in the coming days.
Williams was the favorite out of the four signed yesterday to be drafted, but his late season knee injury probably ended any possibility of him being drafted within the seven rounds of the draft. He may not stick around as a Niner, but Williams is good enough to be on a 53-man roster when the season opens up in September.
One of the most frustrating players in Notre Dame history, Smith came on late last season and played really well down the stretch when the Irish won four straight games to close out the season. Cleveland isn’t exactly loaded on the defensive side of things, so there is always a possibility that he remains a Brown going forward. At the very least, he could be an effective special teams player.
Walls and Stewart have to be thrilled with ending up in Atlanta and the Big Apple respectively, even if they don’t remain on the rosters. Both the Falcons and Jets are two of the favorites to make a Super Bowl appearance and both seem like great spots for two very smart and hard working players.