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Fighting Irish Stars Visit Pro Teams Ahead of The 2024 NFL Draft

Written by Owen O'Connor ⏐ Writer ⏐ Twitter/X: @Ocon54

Photo by The Irish Tribune

As the 2024 NFL Draft approaches, the spotlight shines brightly on the University of Notre Dame, where several football stars are poised to take the next step in their careers. Head Coach Marcus Freeman and the tremendous supporting staff have always done a great job of developing players to be ready for the next level of competition whether they were with the program for a short time or their entire collegiate career. Players such as Audric Estime and Joe Alt have been loyal to the vision for the program, while others such as Sam Hartman looked for his last chance to show his talent before entering the big stage. These gifted athletes developed their abilities on the hallowed grounds of Notre Dame Stadium, captivating fans with their performances and leaving an unforgettable stamp on the Fighting Irish tradition. Though the season did not go as everyone envisioned, these players demonstrated NFL-caliber potential on some of the largest collegiate stages. They are now ready to exhibit their talents at the professional level.

While we await the start of the 2024 NFL Draft, Fighting Irish alumni have been impressing professional scouts on every stage. The NFL Combine and Notre Dame Pro Day have passed, but that doesn't mean the preparation is over for these future pros. Prospects are currently visiting NFL organizations that could be interested in their services come draft day. Let's take a look at where some of our top Notre Dame prospects have visited so far, and if it could be their new professional home:

Joe Alt - OL

Joe Alt is seen as the top Notre Dame player coming into this NFL Draft and a Week 1 starter. The Fighting Irish have a tremendous reputation for generating pro-level talent at the Offensive Line, some would even refer to the program as "O-Line University", a compliment a collegiate program gets when producing multiple elite players at a specific football position. Alt is next in line behind a tremendous track record of top OL prospects from Notre Dame, following Ronnie Stanley, Quenton Nelson, and many more. In the past two collegiate seasons, the top prospect allowed only one sack against great competition. Alt also had a 92.8 pass-blocking grade this season, ranking second among all Division I offensive linemen. Alt's stellar career has continued to impress during the selection process, including interviews and combine drills. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the Fighting Irish standout completed 27 bench reps for a total combined score of 87, placing him best among all prospects in his position group.

Alt will have a large amount of interest from multiple NFL organizations, but many mock drafts do not predict him falling outside of the Top 10 selections. The top prospect met with various scouts at the NFL Combine and Notre Dame's Pro Day, but two teams showing the most interest in Joe Alt are the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets. The news comes from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who notes that Alt and the Titans met on Wednesday, April 3rd, one day after the Notre Dame product visited the New York Jets, who picked three spots behind Tennessee. Both teams have shown that if the top Offensive Lineman is there, they will most likely make the selection. This pick would not only be one of the safest picks in the draft, but one that can protect the future of your franchise. These two franchises have rosters that will rely on the health of their Quarterbacks, giving even more of a reason for Alt to be the draft choice. Both the Jets and Titans are positioned to be very competitive in 2024, and Alt will help secure the protection and efficiency of a powerful offense.

Sam Hartman - QB

Hartman arrived at Notre Dame with high hopes after 5 seasons at Wake Forest, seeing valuable playing time each year. This year, he posted a stat line of 2,689 yards and 24 passing TD's with only 8 INT's in the 2023 season. The former starting Quarterback has been a name to watch since he committed to Notre Dame last offseason. Unfortunately, the talent level in the 2024 Quarterback draft class will not do him any favors. Heisman winners Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels, as well as National Championship appearances from JJ McCarthy and Michael Penix, are seen with higher potential than the Fighting Irish quarterback, whose production took a hit in the latter half of the 2023 season.

Hartman is currently projected to be a Day 3 pick, which consists of the final 3 rounds of the NFL draft. He has generated conversations and interest from many organizations, including the Green Bay Packers and other developmental-friendly teams. Many big-name collegiate Quarterbacks have found more success after being drafted later and learning from a veteran, such as Brock Purdy, Matt Hasselbeck, or the great Tom Brady. The former Notre Dame and Wake Forest prospect will have his chance to compete for a roster spot no matter where he is selected in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Audric Estime - RB

Following the path set by Kyren Williams, Audric Estime looks to be the next talented Notre Dame Running back in the NFL. Estime was a definite foundation of the offensive game plan heading into most games last season. He accounted for 18 of the team's 28 rushing touchdowns and 55% of overall rushing yards in 2023. Estime struggled with some workouts at the NFL Combine, including his 40-yard dash time. Fortunately, he improved at Notre Dame's official pro day, running a 4.58 40-yard dash.

There have been no reports of official NFL visits for Estime, but he has generated interest from multiple organizations as their future starting Running back. Both the Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers have reportedly met with Estime at the NFL Combine and Notre Dame Pro Day. Another team that has remained interested in the Fighting Irish star is the Cleveland Browns. The Browns also met with Estime and have remained in contact throughout the draft process in search of a future Running back who can learn from and eventually fill the shoes of Nick Chubb. Estime is projected to be selected in between the late first round and middle third round, but could end up in a higher selection.

The NFL draft is full of surprises for not only the fans, but players and organizations as well. Finding the team that believes the most in you will give prospects confidence to compete in the beginning of their professional careers. The NFL 2024 NFL Draft will begin the 1st round on Thursday, April 25th at 8:00PM, and concluding Saturday, April 27th.


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