Former Notre Dame QB Rick Mirer reflects on own NFL Draft experience, Ian Book's future
Rick Mirer hasn’t made the NFL Draft appointment TV since he watched from his family’s home in Goshen as the Seattle Seahawks made the former Notre Dame standout QB the No. 2 overall pick in 1993.
His indifference of being in the moment won’t end this week, either, when the 2021 rendition kicks off its three-day, seven-round marathon of hyperbole and bombast from Cleveland, Thursday night at 8 EDT (ABC, ESPN, NFL Network).
“But I’m curious about a few things, and I’ll make sure I catch up and read about those later,” Mirer said Tuesday.
One of which is where Notre Dame’s most recent starting quarterback, Ian Book, ends up.
By all accounts the three-year starter will get selected much closer to the 259th and final pick — if at all — than the first-round, where linebacker and teammate Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah figures to start the procession of Irish draft picks that could reach double digits by Saturday evening.
“From what I’m hearing from people that I believe and trust, he’s got a shot to play in the league, at least get into a camp,” Mirer said of Book. “And that’s great. He's earned everything he’s gotten.”
Had Book come out after the 2019 season instead of coming back to Notre Dame and playing through a pandemic to coax the Irish into the 2020 College Football Playoff, that might not have been the case.
“I actually think he’s a little underrated going into the draft,” offered former ND head coach Charlie Weis on ND Insider’s Pod of Gold podcast. “I watched him a few years ago, and I just didn’t think he was going to cut it, to be honest with you.”
Weis, who coached at ND from 2005-09 and spent most of his coaching career as an NFL offensive coordinator, is currently an NFL analyst for SiriusXM and host of a weekday NFL-oriented show — “Airing It Out” — on SiriusXM Channel 88 (10 a.m. to noon EDT).
“Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t think (Book) was good enough to win games in college,” Weis continued, “but I didn’t think he was going to cut it as an NFL prospect.
“He wasn’t real quick on his progression. His accuracy wasn’t great. His feet seemed to save him a lot of times. There were some games where he had some really bad games.
“As I watched him this year, I thought he blossomed, because he didn’t have the same supporting cast, as far as skill people around him that he had previously. And I think because he didn’t have them, I was more impressed with him as I had been in the past, because he picked up his game.”
There’s history to be made with this Notre Dame draft class.
If the number of draftees does indeed reach 10, it’ll tie the 1994 Notre Dame draft contingent as the largest since the NFL went to its current seven-round format that year.
Owusu-Koramoah stands to be the first Notre Dame linebacker selected in round one since Bob Crable did so 39 years ago. And Liam Eichenberg has an outside chance to become the fourth straight Irish starting left tackle to come off the board in round 1, though the second round for him is much more likely.
Tommy Tremble, only the second redshirt sophomore ever from ND to enter the draft, is likely to become the next Irish prospect selected after Owusu-Koramoah and Eichenberg. The probable third-rounder will become the 10th straight ND starting tight end to eventually be drafted since 2004. (The last one not to was 2003 starter Billy Palmer.)
Four of the top eight ND draft prospects — Book, Tremble, Owusu-Koramoah and defensive end Ade Ogundeji — were Rivals.com three-star prospects coming out of high school.
Tremble and Owusu-Koramoah are two of 45 draft prospects who have agreed to participate in the draft festivities virtually as COVID-19 protocols begin to relax. Thirteen players will be on site.
Meanwhile, Book will be watching from home, in California.
Though he’s more of a footnote from a draft position standpoint, Book is a headliner when it comes to how he ties back into the perception of Notre Dame’s program.
The Irish have offered just two quarterbacks in the 2023 class — players who are just finishing their sophomore year in high school. Both of them, Arch Manning of New Orleans and Dante Moore of Detroit, are consensus five-star prospects.
With NFL aspirations.
Notre Dame has produced 22 quarterbacks who eventually were drafted since the draft’s inception in 1936. But there have been only four since Mirer in ‘93 (Jarious Jackson, Brady Quinn, Jimmy Clausen and DeShone Kizer).
And Kizer has been the only one to happen during the Kelly Era.
Comparatively, there are 71 other schools to have at least one quarterback selected during the same set of draft cycles (2011-2020). Roughly half of those (35) have had two or more. Oklahoma leads all with four.
Texas, Florida and South Carolina are notable Power Five programs with zero during that time frame.
“Notre Dame’s history of putting quarterbacks into the NFL wasn’t a consideration for me at all during my own recruiting process,” Mirer said. “That would have been getting ahead of myself so much. It’s so different now, with the amount of information everyone has. I mean, there are 10-year-old draft experts somehow.
“Honestly the biggest thing for me was a chance to win a championship. And then throw in the school, the history, the tradition, coaching stability — all that stuff. But the NFL, hell, there were so many things that had to happen first, that was not my concern.
“I think it is now for kids. Things have changed a lot. I guess that’s what quarterbacks have to think. So having another one, Book, getting a chance at the NFL certainly wouldn’t hurt.”
Mirer’s son, Charlie, incidentally is a 2022 QB recruit who is playing catch-up in the recruiting process. The 6-foot-6, 235-pounder just completed his junior season at Cathedral Catholic in San Diego, delayed to the spring and compressed to five regular-season games because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The elder Mirer said a number of schools have been in touch, but so far Michigan is Charlie’s lone scholarship offer.
Charlie was in tow, working on his classwork virtually, as the Mirers visited son Oliver recently in Ann Arbor, where he’s a member of the Michigan men’s lacrosse team. They’re now in South Bend in part to take in son Morrison’s final regular-season home game Saturday as a member of ND’s men’s lacrosse team.
Another reason for Mirer’s presence in South Bend this week is the official unveiling of the latest offerings for his Mirror Valley Winery, Play Like a Champion Today Wine.
Mirer has partnered with former Irish head coach Lou Holtz. There will be two varieties — a chardonnay to honor Holtz, and a cabernet sauvignon to honor Holtz’s late wife Beth. Part of the proceeds from the wines will be donated to Notre Dame for financial aid.
The wines will be served at Notre Dame’s graduation next month, Mirer said. For more information, visit https://www.playlikeachampiontodaywine.com.
“It’s just kind of taking off,” said Mirer, in the wine business since 2008. “It's pretty exciting and a lot of fun to share with everybody while we’re back.”
Mirer said he wished he had more time for football this week. Saturday’s Blue-Gold Game overlaps the ND-Syracuse lacrosse game he’ll attend. That’ll keep him from getting a peek at Book’s wannabe successors — Jack Coan, Drew Pyne and freshman Tyler Buchner, the latter of whom hails from San Diego and knows Mirer well.
“It’s fun to study quarterbacks and try to figure out which ones will turn out to be great,” said Mirer, who was enlisted to do just that recently for longtime friend John Lynch, the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers have the third overall pick and are looking to take a QB.
“It was fun to kind of help, another set of eyes watching that stuff,” Mirer said. “What I was looking for is how NFL ready they were. Then you consider the systems they play in, their age, how many games they’ve played in, who they’ve played against.
“Ian isn’t someone I was studying, but he does have a lot of the things you’d want. He’s played on a big stage and he’s played in a real offense and has had to make decisions. Not everybody has that. That counts for something.”