Notre Dame

Ronnie Stanley No. 1? Notre Dame eyes strong 2016 NFL Draft

Notre Dame

Notre Dame only had one player picked in the 2015 NFL Draft, with Ben Koyack going in the seventh round to Jacksonville. But don't expect another near-shutout in next year's draft.

Instead, expect the opposite.

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Combing through the various way-too-early 2016 mock drafts that've been posted in the last few days, it's clear plenty of analysts are high on Irish prospects. A rundown of seven mocks and where they have Notre Dame players being selected:

CBS Sports (Dane Brugler)

LT Ronnie Stanley (No. 2), LB Jaylon Smith (No. 15), WR Corey Robinson (No. 23)

Bleacher Report (Matt Miller)

LT Ronnie Stanley (No. 1), LB Jaylon Smith (No. 7), DT Sheldon Day (No. 15), CB KeiVarae Russell (No. 22), WR Corey Robinson (No. 31)

Walter Football

LT Ronnie Stanley (No. 16), LB Jaylon Smith (No. 26)

Walter Football (Charlie Campbell)

LT Ronnie Stanley (No. 6), LB Jaylon Smith (No. 32)

SB Nation (Dan Kadar)

LT Ronnie Stanley (No. 3), LB Jaylon Smith (No. 7)

The Big Lead (Jason McIntyre)


LT Ronnie Stanley (No. 8), LB Jaylon Smith (No. 24), DT Sheldon Day (No. 28)

UT-San Diego (Eddie Brown)

LT Ronnie Stanley (No. 11), LB Jaylon Smith (No. 14), C Nick Martin (No. 23), WR Corey Robinson (No. 30)

[MORE: Reviewing Notre Dame's depth chart heading into the summer]

Of course, all this comes with the caveat of there still being about 12 months and a full season of games separating us from now and next year's draft. But Notre Dame will enter the fall with loads of NFL-caliber talent.

The most interesting name to pop up in these mocks is Robinson, who has ideal size and athleticism for his position but only managed 40 catches for 539 yards and five touchdowns in 2014. It was a solid sophomore season for him, but he'll still split time with senior Chris Brown this fall and may not see his production take a significant leap until his senior year in 2016 -- if he decides to stick around Notre Dame for it. Robinson certainly is an NFL prospect but his route running and pass catching skills still need some refinement, though he's routinely praised by coaches as one of the better learners on the Irish.

Of the players listed above, Smith and Robinson would have to declare early as juniors while Stanley would have a fifth year of eligibility available, though like tight end Tyler Eifert a few years ago, he'll almost certainly forgo it. Russell, by virtue of missing the 2014 season due to an academic suspension, could be a fifth-year candidate in 2016 though with a solid showing this fall he'd seem likely to enter the NFL Draft as well.

[MORE: Could lack of 13th game still be a problem for Notre Dame?]

Notre Dame hasn't had multiple first-round picks since 2012 (Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith) and hasn't had three in a year since 1994 (Bryant Young, Aaron Taylor, Jeff Burris). If a few of the more aggressive projections wind up being accurate, Notre Dame could have four first-round picks for the first time since 1993 (Rick Mirer, Jerome Bettis, Tom Carter, Irv Smith) or five first-round picks for the first time in draft history.