It is the 23rd consecutive meeting between Stanford and Notre Dame this week in California, and while the first 22 meetings have been generally competitive — Notre Dame leads the series 19-13 — this game is unlikely to be so. With backup quarterback David Mills starting once again for the injured K.J. Costello, the 4-7 Cardinal figure to struggle against one of the nation's better defenses and the 16th-ranked Fighting Irish.
Though Costello is out, Stanford still brings some top prospects to the matchup, and Notre Dame is riddled with the NFL talent that propelled them to the College Football Playoff last season, though one of their defensive studs is also out: Julian Okwara fractured his fibula earlier this month. If you have got your channels dialed in to Stanford/Notre Dame at 4 P.M. ET, these are the future NFL players to watch.
Khalid Kareem, EDGE, Notre Dame (TDN Rank: 109)
Khalid Kareem is the lesser-known of the two Notre Dame pass rushers, but what Julian Okwara brought in explosiveness and agility, Kareem brings with power and length. He is a better inside rusher who is a candidate for subpackage 3-technique snaps. Kareem should win on stunts and twists at the next level and is a strong run defender to boot. Expect Kareem to be a riser at the 2020 Senior Bowl, and look for a big game from him on late downs in Okwara’s absence.
Most realistic fit: Houston Texans
Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford (TDN Rank: 126)
It feels like we have all forgotten about Colby Parkinson, and in a 4-7 season with his starting QB out for extended stretches it is not surprising. What is surprising is how Parkinson has struggled in the red zone with only one touchdown despite a huge frame and great vertical ability. He is a depth tight end at the next level who will interest teams that like to run their TEs through the seams.
Most realistic fit: Kansas City Chiefs
Alohi Gilman, S, Notre Dame (TDN Rank: 149)
A hard-nosed box safety for the Fighting Irish, Alohi Gilman has the explosiveness, length and tackling ability to be a consistent short-zone defender. He also wins as a pursuit player working from the second-level into the boundary. There are concerns with Gilman's long speed, as well as his transitional quickness in man coverage, that will likely relegate him to a reserve role in the NFL. How much of an impact can he make on special teams, though?
Most realistic fit: Green Bay Packers
Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame (TDN Rank: 181)
Chase Claypool is a player with a huge frame and good hand strength away from that frame. He has a strong profile as a contested-catch and jump-ball player who could be a candidate to move into the flex Y role in the NFL — given how big he is for the modern WR position. As a depth receiver, he should prove a solid red-zone option at the very least. Nonetheless, Claypool is a lock for NFL rosters because of his special teams experience.
Most realistic fit: Tennessee Titans
Jalen Elliott, S, Notre Dame (TDN Rank: 203)
The Fighting Irish safety room is deep, and Jalen Elliott fills multiple roles on the back end depending on the defensive sub-package. NFL teams will like his range, route anticipation and willingness to run up and fill when he is in the box. Elliott’s size is not ideal, and I am not sure he is a starter at the NFL level, but his versatility will help ensure that he is rostered in the early years of his professional career.
Most realistic fit: Oakland Raiders
Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame (TDN Rank: 371)
It might be easy to say that Ian Book does not have much of an NFL future, but we just watched David Blough take and maximize snaps for the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving. Like Blough, Book does not have the ideal size or arm strength to consistently win in the NFL, but he moves well in the pocket and has enough wheels to win on designed runs. Book also has enough accuracy to all three levels of the field to maximize his playmakers.
Most realistic fit: New York Jets
Edit: Stanford CB Paulson Adebo was initially included in this post; he is out with injury for this game.