Tight end has been one of Notre Dame's strongest positions in the 21st century and under coach Brian Kelly in particular. Bishop Dwenger product Tyler Eifert and Kyle Rudolph lead the pack, but the Irish have churned out tight ends with tremendous regularity for more than 15 years.
All-American Alize Mack became the latest in that line Saturday, when the New Orleans Saints selected him in the seventh round with the No. 231 overall pick, the sixth and final Notre Dame pick of the draft. The Irish have had at least a half-dozen players drafted in four of the last seven years.
"Oh man, I can’t believe it," Mack said of his selection. "It’s a dream come true."
The Las Vegas native is the 12th Notre Dame tight end drafted since 2001, the most in the country, and the sixth to get picked under Kelly. He is also the eighth straight Irish starting tight end to get selected, meaning that the Week 1 Notre Dame starter at tight end has eventually gone on to the NFL every year since 2005. The Irish can clearly lay a claim to be Tight End U at this point.
Mack, a second-team All-American as a senior in 2018, caught 36 passes for 360 yards and three touchdowns in his final season with the Irish, giving Ian Book a downfield threat over the middle. He had long stretches without getting targeted because Notre Dame had so many talented wide receivers, but when the ball came his direction, he made a couple of terrific plays. His future in the NFL will likely depend on how he develops as a blocker and his performance on special teams early in his career.
"Tape shows a player who loves to get into routes and become a target, but also who shies away from the physical requirements asked of him in the run game," NFL.com's Lance Zierlein said of the tight end. "While he has some straight-line speed, he isn't that dynamic as a route-runner and might not have much impact beyond first-level routes."
That sounds a little bit pessimistic to me, considering how dynamic Mack was when the Irish made him a consistent target. He'll have to battle for a roster spot after being picked in the seventh round, but he has the athleticism and pass-catching ability to stick.