- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Mel Kiper Jr. said it, not me: "Just imagine for a moment how scary the Notre Dame defensive line would be in 2013 if [Aaron] Lynch had stayed in South Bend."
Nonetheless, Kiper is in the same boat as McShay with this one, as he sees a 2014 NFL draft class that is top-heavy with current and former Notre Dame defensive linemen.
Kiper's first 25-man Big Board for next year's draft is up, and he has Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Lynch all among the top-20.
Nix leads the pack at No. 7, with Tuitt coming in next at No. 13 and Lynch rounding out the trio at No. 20.
All three players will have at least one more year of eligibility remaining after the 2013 season. While Nix was faced with a decision this past winter and Lynch is, frankly, an unknown, Tuitt has given zero indication that he plans on leaving school early, though that could all change pending a monstrous fall.
And, as I wrote in the Big East blog recently, while playing the "What If …" game is always tempting, there's no guarantee everything would have worked out so swimmingly for the Irish last year had Lynch stayed with the program and not made some significant adjustments. To his credit, the reviews out of Tampa, Fla., have been positive so far.
Other familiar names on Kiper's Big Board include USC's Marqise Lee, Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio, Michigan's Taylor Lewan, Alabama's Adrian Hubbard and Alabama's C.J. Mosley.
Kiper also has a "next 25" list, though no Irish players check in at Nos. 26-50.