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Notre Dame Football

Quick Quotes from Brian Kelly's NFL Draft Press Conference

April 28, 2020

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly conducted a 40-minute press conference on Tuesday to recap the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Here are a few quick quotes from Kelly on some of the players he spoke about during the Zoom call. 

On Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet: 
"The Chicago Bears is an operation that understands their personnel. They would not of drafted Cole Kmet if he was the 10th tight end. He clearly is an investment - a large financial investment. I think that's a three million dollar signing bonus. You don't make those kinds of investments unless you know what you're getting. 

"What they're getting is an athletic tight end that is going to impact their offense immediately. He's smart. He's the capabilities to get better and better as he continues to develop. Having a lot of tight ends on your roster is one thing. Having Cole Kmet is another." 

On receiver Chase Claypool fit with the Pittsburgh Steelers:
"His size obviously stands out. You like to match up him on the perimeter because of his size, ability to run the line on the outside where you can put the ball up one-on-one and let him use his size to an advantage. We've had him inside. We played him in the slot. He's extremely versatile. He can come down and block anybody - safeties, rovers and corners. 

"His last year, he played into the short field for us and was our W receiver. College football is a little bit different with the hash marks. It gave us one-on-one matchups, which he could usually win those with regularity. He's a guy who can play a flank on either side of the formation, but again he has the physical tools to play anywhere at the wide receiver position." 

On Romeo Okwara's influence on his younger brother Julian: 
"They're very different. Romeo is laid back and very measured. Julian can be a little more emotional at times. They will be a great tandem not only on the field, but off the field. It's just a great match.”

On the relationship between the Okwara brothers: 
"It's not your typical rivalry in the sense of sibling rivalry. They've always been very supportive. When Romeo comes around, Julian is very excited to see him, but Romeo has never been that guy that is giving advice. 

"He kind of stays back and let Julian be who he is. I've always appreciated the way Romeo has handled Julian and letting him be who he is. I think it's really helped him a lot. It helped him grow here at Notre Dame. I think it's served him well as he's moved on in his career." 

On Jalen Elliott signing with the Detroit Lions:
"I talked to Matt Patricia about him. Matt likes him a lot. He likes his physicality. We kind of talked about Patrick Chung, who he had in New England. Physical player and really good around the line of scrimmage. Matt plays a lot of Cover 1. They're going to need a safety who will roll down and support the box. 

"I think Miami plays the most Cover 1 and the Lions are the second-most in the NFL. They'll need one of those safeties to come down and support the box. He's got a really good shot. That's why they signed him so quickly. 

"He'll be given a fair opportunity to make that team." 

On differences in Carolina Panthers cornerback Troy Pride Jr. and New York Giants cornerback Julian Love as they were taken at almost the same spot in the draft: 
"Troy possesses a different skill package. Julian had a lot of action on the football. Troy not as much, but the physical skills jump out when you talk about Troy - a track athlete and someone with elite speed. You have two different players from that standpoint. A lot of the evaluations on Julian were done based on his ability to get to the football and pass breakups. Whereas Troy Pride, a lot of his evaluation was based on his speed and his athletic ability.

"In one respect, you're looking at a Julian Love and saying here's a guy who makes a lot of plays and on the other side, you're looking at Troy Pride and saying here's a guy who has incredible athletic ability and let's get him in position to make plays. That's how they differ.

"I think Troy is a guy who is just starting to scratch his potential and where he could be as a player. I think that's what a lot of the NFL people saw and that's why you saw him taken where he was in the draft." 

On the impact of Khalid Kareem passing on surgery to finish the season for the team:
"I think Jerry Tillery set that up last year in the room when Jerry passed on surgery after the Stanford game. I think that's kind of something our guys take a great deal of pride in and if they can play through it, they're going to try and play for their teammates. Khalid did the same thing. 

"Did it impact where he was in the draft? I don't know. He was a productive player for us for the remainder of the season and helped us win some football games. He was still drafted in a really solid position and he helped our football team win 11 games. I would hope he feels all of those things came together for him. He played a lot of winning football and won a lot of games. He was extremely productive for us down the stretch." 

On Kareem being a steal in the fifth-round:
"I've talked to a lot of people about him. You're immediately trying to compare him to Okwara and they're different players. Khalid is a sneaky pass rusher. He gets off blocks. He has those innate abilities to find a way to the quarterback and football.

"He's going to be a guy who plays in this league for a while because he knows how to play the game. He just has that instinctive awareness of how to get off and shed a block, get to the quarterback and football. A lot of those things you don't teach. It's going to be fun to watch his career." 

On who LA Chargers safety Alohi Gilman compares to in the NFL:
"He's got some of those mental awareness traits. I was talking to John Harbaugh because they were right there ready to take him as well. I had a player who played for me, Haruki Nakamura, at Cincinnati. Haruki was drafted in the fifth-round and played four years for John. We had talked about after that's exactly where he would have taken him. 

"What we talked about was his smarts, intuitiveness, toughness and makes your football team better in some fashion. You don't know how he does it sometimes, but he influences others. We talked about the Larry Bird mentality. He makes others around him better and that's Alohi Gilman.” 

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