Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 4/30/12

With Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith going in the first round on Thursday night, Notre Dame was well represented at the beginning of the NFL Draft. They were well represented at the back end too.

Former Notre Dame cornerback Robert Blanton was selected with the 139th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Blanton was taken with the fourth selection of the fifth round. Blanton was the second defensive back from Notre Dame drafted by the Vikings in this year’s draft. Harrison Smith was picked by Minnesota in the first round.

Blanton and Smith give the Vikings five former Irish players, in addition to John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph and John Sullivan. Blanton totaled 193 career tackles with 19 tackles for loss and added eight interceptions and 16 pass breakups. A starter in all 13 games as a senior in 2011, Blanton registered career highs of 70 tackles and eight tackles for loss and added one sack, two interceptions, six pass breakups and one fumble recovery. He was named recipient of the inaugural Notre Dame Back of the Year, recognizing Blanton as the top Irish defensive back in 2011.

Former Notre Dame outside linebacker Darius Fleming was selected with the 165th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Fleming was the 30th pick of the fifth round and was the fourth Fighting Irish player taken in this year’s draft. Fleming was the first Notre Dame linebacker selected in the NFL Draft since Courtney Watson was picked in the second round of the 2004 draft by New Orleans. Fleming becomes the first Notre Dame player drafted by San Francisco since Arnaz Battle in 2003 (sixth round, 197th selection).

Fleming ranks 10th in Notre Dame history with 15 career sacks. He started 36 of 50 career games played, including all 26 games over his final two seasons. Fleming posted 158 career tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks in his Notre Dame career. He added two interceptions, eight pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one blocked extra point. As a senior in 2011, Fleming was named Notre Dame’s Lineman of the Year after recording 55 tackles with seven tackles for loss. He produced three and a half sacks, one interception, three pass breakups, forced one fumble and blocked one extra point.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, MSN and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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