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Wainscott: Irish in the NFL, rookie edition

| Thursday, November 4, 2021

With the 2021 NFL season well underway it’s time to take a look at the Notre Dame rookies who have made their debuts. That’s right Irish Nation, it’s time for Irish in the NFL:

Ian Book:  

The Saints selected Ian Book, the winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history, with their fourth-round draft pick. In his first NFL preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, facing a second-and-16 from his own 7-yard line, Book launched his first professional pass, which was completed to wide receiver Easop Winston Jr. for 35 yards and a first down. Ian Book played the entire second half and completed 9-of-16 passes for a total of 126 yards in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason. Book made a notable first impression in the preseason but has yet to see the field during the regular season.

Now that New Orleans is without injured Jameis Winston, how will Sean Payton and the Saints respond? Backup quarterback Taysom Hill is still mending from a concussion suffered in the Washington Football Team matchup. This season, Hill has four pass attempts after throwing for 928 yards and 12 total touchdowns in 2020. If he can return in Week Nine against the Falcons, would Sean Payton elevate him as the starter or backup to Trevor Siemian? And the question that all Notre Dame fans are wondering, could they elevate rookie Ian Book from the inactive list if Taysom Hill remains out of the picture for next week’s game? We know New Orleans is unable to sign a veteran free-agent quarterback or trade for someone, as the Nov. 2 trade deadline has now come and gone. A future for Ian Book could be on the horizon.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah:  

Originally drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the second round as the 52nd overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, linebacker Owusu-Koramoah has had an incredible rookie season thus far. Owusu-Koramoah was projected as a first-round talent, so landing him at the 52nd pick has proven to be a steal for the Browns. The highly versatile defender has continued to give the Browns the ability to run some three-safety formations. Prior to his injury in Week Six, Owusu-Koramoah appeared in all six games of the season with five starts. He is leading the team with 27 tackles, while adding four passes defended, one forced fumble and a half sack. However, Owusu-Koramoah will be sidelined for several weeks due to a high ankle sprain suffered in the fourth quarter of Cleveland’s 37-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Even in the game in which he was injured, Owusu-Koramoah played 85 percent of the Browns’ defensive snaps and totaled eight tackles (five of them solo) and one pass breakup against the Cardinals. There is certainly more to come from JOK.

Tommy Tremble: 

Tremble was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft as the 83rd overall pick. He came to the Panthers with a reputation for versatility and has quietly become one of the most intriguing tight ends in the NFL this season. The Panthers’ third-round pick already has two touchdowns in his pro career, one of which was scored on a handoff from Sam Darnold against the Houston Texans in Week Three. In addition to his touchdown run at Houston, Tremble had a 30-yard reception. He also put his route running on display on a 5-yard curl score last week against Philadelphia’s defense. It cannot be denied that he has been one of Carolina’s primary red-zone weapons, even next to the likes of Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall Jr. The Panthers need him to continue to add to his game because of the trade that sent tight end Dan Arnold to Jacksonville in exchange for cornerback CJ Henderson. Arnold was signed to be the pass-catcher at the position they lacked, so Tremble is going to have to take on that role out of necessity now. Diversifying the offense will be key as the Panthers adjust to life without Arnold. Tremble is regarded as more than a blocker, and he’s adding other attributes to his game. Of course, his running game was unexpected. Tremble actually broke a record held by Rob Gronkowski as the youngest tight end to ever rush for a touchdown. I expect to see a continued trajectory of greatness from Tremble as the playoffs approach.

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