Kaden Elliss Jersey

Usually, the NFL gets it right when it brings 300 or so of the best prospects every year to Indianapolis for the scouting combine. Most will end up names you know as Sunday’s stars.

But there are always those who are overlooked who wind up making some team very happy and leave the other 31 kicking themselves for not doing their homework.

One of those unheralded players in this year’s draft could very well be Idaho linebacker Kaden Elliss.

Not extended a combine invite, Elliss got the NFL’s attention with some excellent pro day showings and is now a likely pick in the NFL Draft, which runs Thursday to Saturday.

“It was disappointing not being able to go to the combine, but God has a plan for everything,” Elliss said. “After I knew I wasn’t going to Indianapolis, I had to figure out a strategy to get their attention, and I’m happy with how it’s worked so far.”

Elliss, who attended high school in Salt Lake City, is the son of former Utah defensive lineman Luther Elliss, who played 10 NFL seasons for the Lions and Broncos and now coaches the Vandals’ defensive line. He was given the chance to take part in Utah’s pro day on March 28, and then Idaho’s six days later.

A funny thing happened in Utah — Elliss (6-foot-2, 229 pounds) was as impressive as any of the Utes. His three-cone drill time (6.63 seconds) was particularly strong, as was an 11.1-second 60-yard shuttle. Both would have been No. 1 or No. 2 at the combine. He ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at Idaho’s pro day.

“That pro day at Utah was basically my version of the NFL combine, because I knew there would be a lot of teams there,” Elliss said. “I knew any times I didn’t love I could try again at Idaho’s. It was really rewarding being able to show well, because in a way, your whole playing career has led to that opportunity.”

Sure, some savvy teams knew about the 278 tackles (47 for loss) and 17 sacks Elliss had at Idaho, but the testing numbers made sure plenty of linebacker-needy teams took notice. Elliss said he visited eight NFL teams in recent weeks for pre-draft interviews.

A high school quarterback, Elliss played every linebacker spot at Idaho and even dabbled at tight end, hauling in 10 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns as a junior and senior.

“Teams picked my brain a lot, really wanted to know all they could about me since I didn’t meet them at the combine,” Elliss said. “Some said they wished they could have seen me at one spot, what I could do there, but most have really liked the versatility, that I can play wherever I might fit best.”

A month ago, he was a likely undrafted free agent, but Elliss has earned a lot of recent attention from draftniks. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah tweeted April 14: “Looking for an intriguing day 3 LB? Meet Idaho LB Kaden Elliss. Good mix of instincts, versatilty & strength.” The Athletic’s Dane Brugler replied by saying “love the competitive energy he put on tape.” He grades Elliss as a sixth-round pick.

Longtime draft expert Rob Rang compiled his recent list of “diamonds in the rough,” and Elliss was his top linebacker. Perhaps like Adam Thielen, Phillip Lindsay and Antonio Gates, he may be the latest big find not to be in Indianapolis.

“Elliss won’t be the first player on this list to get drafted but make no mistake, he will be drafted,” Rang wrote on NFLDraftScout.com. “In fact, I believe he will be the first player selected this year who was not invited to the combine.”

Even if he is drafted, likely during Saturday’s final day (rounds 4-7), Elliss knows he will again be in a position where he must compete to get noticed. But as the eldest in a family with 12 children, that won’t be anything new.

Elliss also could be the first Vandal drafted since Korey Toomer was taken in the fifth round of the 2012 draft by the Seahawks, potentially ending the school’s longest such drought since the draft began in 1936.

“It would be an honor,” Elliss said. “I came to Idaho with the expectation to play in the NFL and play my best at all times. I wanted to raise the program up, and if I can do that by having my name called this week, I’d be very happy.”

The Baltimore Ravens are gearing up for the 2019 NFL draft by bringing in prospects for visits. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Ravens are one of several teams hosting Idaho linebacker Kaden Elliss.

Elliss wasn’t invited to the NFL scouting combine but made sure teams got a show at Idaho’s pro day. Elliss posted a 34.5-inch vertical jump, 4.58-second 40-yard dash and a 6.49-second 3-cone drill. But perhaps his most impressive feat was tossing a blocking sled like it was a lawn chair,

Elliss seems likely to be a Day 2 or Day 3 prospect given his small-school background. Elliss certainly looks the part of an NFL linebacker, however. Listed at 6 feet 3 and 240 pounds, Elliss was productive at Idaho. Over 11 games in 2018, Elliss combined for 60 tackles and seven sacks.

Elliss also has an NFL pedigree. His father, Luther, was a first-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 1995 and played 10 years in the league as a defensive tackle.
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said the team was interested in the second tier of linebackers in this draft, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec. Elliss could very well fit into that grouping after such an impressive performance at Idaho’s pro day.

Alize Mack Jersey

Another talented former Notre Dame Fighting Irish player comes off the board on the last day of the NFL draft. With the 17th pick of the 7th round, going at 231 overall, the New Orleans Saints have chosen TE Alizé Mack. That’s the 6th Notre Dame Tight End to be drafted during the Brian Kelly era.

Mack is the first Notre Dame player to be drafted by the Saints in the Sean Payton era. Mack had an interesting but fruitful career at Notre Dame; he sustained a few injuries after coming in as a highly-touted recruit, and ended up flourishing as a vital part of Brian Kelly’s offense in his senior year: he had 36 catches for 360 yards and 3 touchdowns. Scouts note that he was incredibly versatile, as well:

Alizé is also the first Fighting Irish player to be selected by the New Orleans Saints since Courtney Watson, who heard his name called by the organization in the second round of the 2004 NFL draft. Mack joins a roster with veteran tight ends Jared Cook and Josh Hill, hoping to compete for a spot with new guys like Dan Arnold and Garrett Griffin.

That’s six TE’s to be drafted to the NFL from Notre Dame in the Brian Kelly era. We hope Alizé will be immensely successful when he arrives in New Orleans. Here’s what Alizé himself had to say about the news, as well as some insider info on the fruit of Alizé’s labor from OFD’s own Jude Seymour:

Congrats to Alizé, and go Saints!

Alizé Mack was holding back tears a few minutes after the New Orleans Saints drafted him on Saturday (April 27).

“Oh man, I can’t believe it,” he said during a video chat with New Orleans media. “It’s a dream come true.”

The Saints selected Mack, a Notre Dame tight end, with the 231st overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Mack met with the Saints at the combine and took an official pre-draft visit in New Orleans where he met with tight ends coach Dan Campbell and head coach Sean Payton, among others.

“It felt like home as soon as I came down there,” he said. “I’m going to take full responsibility and full advantage of this opportunity, and I can’t wait.”

Mack is 6-foot-4, 249 pounds and finished the 2018 season with 36 catches for 360 yards and three touchdowns, and he’s the first of two seventh-round picks for the Saints.

The Saints signed Jared Cook in free agency and have Josh Hill returning, so Mack will likely compete with Dan Arnold and Garrett Griffin for a backup role in 2019.

Mack thought he would be drafted higher, and he said the Saints “definitely” won’t regret picking him. When asked what he could add to the offense, he quickly replied, “A weapon.”

“You’re going to get a guy who can do it all, a guy who can line up in-line, a guy who can line up on the outside and be a mismatch problem vertically down the field, a guy who can be a huge red zone threat,” he said. “And more so than that, you’re going to get a dude that’s going to come to work every single day regardless of what’s going on, I’m going to come in every single day ready to go, ready to compete — no doubt.”

The Saints received pick No. 231 from the Browns last year when they traded defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence to Cleveland after the preseason. The Saints are also due to pick 244th later in the seventh round.

Notre Dame tight end Alize Mack, who went to Bishop Gorman High School, was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the seventh round of Saturday’s NFL draft.

Mack (6 feet 4 inches, 249 pounds) was the 17th choice of the final round.

He caught 36 passes for 360 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Julian Love knew a life-changing call was coming.

It was just a matter of when.

“I was ready, I was waiting for my name to be called to see where I’d be a good fit,” Love said in a phone interview Saturday. “When it finally came, I was very excited. I feel like I landed at the right spot.”

That spot is with the Giants, who selected the Notre Dame cornerback Saturday in the fourth round of the NFL draft. The Nazareth graduate, who grew up in Westchester, was the No. 108 pick.

He had family with him when the news came.

“They’ve been there my whole life supporting me,” Love said. “It was pretty special to be here with them.”

Love earned consensus…

STRENGTHS

—Highly targeted, highly productive tight end in 2018 who heads into the NFL with experience as a receiver and run-blocker.

—Good pass-blocker who excels in line when asked to keep defensive ends away from the quarterback; has a wide base and good hand placement.

—Great at picking up first downs, as he can find the sticks and run a clean route while making himself a good target for quarterbacks.

—Uses arm length (33¾”) to go get the ball away from his frame.

—Ran well at the combine (4.7-second 40) for his size (6’4″, 249 lbs) and vertical-jumped an impressive 36 inches.

WEAKNESSES

—Not very physical at the point of attack and doesn’t seem to like running over the middle; would rather play in space.

—Flexibility and burst are limited; doesn’t explode out of breaks or out of his stance.

—Hands are average; no standout drops, but there are focus issues at times, especially over the middle, that leave you wanting more consistency.

—Run blocking lacks power and pop; doesn’t look to give max effort when working to the second level.

—Offers limited run-after-catch ability.

OVERALL

Notre Dame is renowned as a tight end factory, and Alize Mack will have a chance to continue that legacy, but his tape has given rise to concerns about toughness and drops. That will hurt his stock and is why we’re rating him as a late-Day 3 player.