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Notre Dame Football

LB JD Bertrand Out to Prove He's Ahead of the Rookie Curve

February 28, 2024
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Former Notre Dame linebacker JD Bertrand left the Senior Bowl with his NFL Draft stock ascending as the 6-foot-1, 233-pounder was named the top linebacker by his peers during the week of practice. 

Bertrand will take on the NFL Combine this week and will look to impress NFL personnel on the field but also in his interviews in Indianapolis. 

“I think the biggest thing for me is just being myself,” stated Bertrand, who finished his Notre Dame career with 166 tackles and 23 tackles for loss. “Giving teams an honest perspective on who I am and how much I love football and my passion for football.” 

The Georiga native finished his Notre Dame career leading the Irish in tackles over the last three seasons, including 76 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss in 2023.

Bertrand didn’t enter the draft process lacking confidence, but his week at the Senior Bowl only confirmed he could play in the NFL. 

“It reaffirmed it,” Bertrand said. “For me, it was the opportunity to compete with some of the best. I think this is probably the closest thing to the NFL you can get at the Senior Bowl, being able to play with them, feel comfortable and learn a new defense.” 

The Senior Bowl is a unique opportunity in many areas as it’s a stressful week of competition, but players are expected to learn a new playbook in a short amount of time. For a Mike linebacker, the expectations are even higher and Bertrand felt his time at Notre Dame helped him prepare for not only the Senior Bowl, but his draft process. 

And Bertrand is quick to give Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator credit for helping him be ahead of the curve. 

“Al Golden definitely has changed my game,” explained Bertrand. “At Notre Dame, I had three defensive coordinators over my time. I went from a Cover 4 base to a man base and Al Golden kind of installed a little bit of everything from the get-go.

“We turned into a little bit more of a man team, but I had exposure to so many NFL defenses, so through him, I think he’s really helped me during my time. I think that’s why Notre Dame is going to pay him so much money to stay there.” 

Golden’s scheme is one thing, but the ability to learn why Notre Dame attacked teams a certain way and how to communicate it to his peers might have been priceless for Bertrand. 

“It goes back to that player perspective,” Bertrand said. “For me, he was able to really communicate well. Take the defense that we’re scheming up and communicate well with certain steps to best go about learning that defense and applying that defense and where your eyes are going to key.” 

As for a potential scheme fit, Bertrand’s experience in multiple defenses and roles is a quality other linebackers in this draft class don’t have. 

“I feel pretty comfortable with all over,” stated Bertrand. “I think I’ve run multiple defenses and mainly a 4-2-5. The NFL is kind of going to a 4-2-5 and I think those two off the ball linebackers are pretty similar and in a true 4-2-5, you have to know both.”

What was Bertrand’s best game in 2023? Well, it’s one that might get Notre Dame fans in their feelings. 

“I think it would be Louisville,” said Bertrand, who recorded nine tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack that night. “I think I put on a wide variety of skills, whether it was blitzing, coverage, or taking on blocks. I think it was also coming off the edge and making a play on the far sideline. I think I presented myself in multiple ways.” 

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