The Washington Commanders drafted Notre Dame defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste in the seventh round of the 2024 NFL Draft on Saturday, April 27th. Jean-Baptiste was chosen by the Commanders with the 222nd overall pick.

A transfer to Notre Dame ahead of the 2023 season, Jean-Baptiste spent five seasons at Ohio State. A New Jersey native, Jean-Baptiste was a key contributor on defense for the Irish last season. Notre Dame’s defensive unit was the seventh-best scoring defense (15.9) in college football a year ago. The unit ranked fifth in the fewest yards allowed per game (276.3) and was fifth in the nation in the fewest yards allowed per play (4.4).

Jean-Baptiste: An Impact Rusher With Room to Grow

Jean-Baptiste finished the 2023 season second on defense with 28 total quarterback pressures. That was just one behind Howard Cross III, an All-American defensive tackle. Jean-Baptiste led the Irish with 16 combined hits on the quarterback. Jean-Baptiste finished his only season in South Bend with 49 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and five sacks. He played in all 13 games for the Irish last year and started in 12.

At 6’5”, and 230 pounds, Jean-Baptiste will have an opportunity to be a long-term solution to the position for the Commanders. His assets are his length, footwork, and body control. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote about Jean-Baptiste, “After a five-year run at Ohio State with modest production, Jean-Baptiste’s Notre Dame tape put him in position to become a developmental Day 3 draft pick. He’ll need to hit the weights to improve his anchor, but he has the footwork and agility to slide off of block sustain and make tackles.”

Sam Hartman Signs with the Commanders

Former Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman did not hear his name called in the 2024 NFL Draft, but he will have an opportunity to play in the NFL. Hartman will rejoin Jean-Baptiste in Washington after signing with the Commanders as an undrafted free agent.

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Hartman will be sharing a quarterback room with Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels, the No. 2 overall pick out of LSU, Marcus Mariota, and Jake Fromm. Jeff Driskel is also currently on the roster. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Hartman secured a $20,000 signing bonus and a base salary of $225,000 for his deal with the Commanders.  Hartman will likely be competing with Fromm and Driskel to be the third-string quarterback.

A record-setting quarterback at Wake Forest, Hartman spent his final season with the Irish as a graduate transfer. Hartman threw 24 touchdown passes and racked up 2,689 yards passing for the Irish in 2023. His lone season in a pro-style offense at Notre Dame produced career-bests in completion percentage (63.5 percent) and in yards per attempt (8.9).

While with the Demon Deacons, Hartman threw an ACC record 134 touchdowns. He also set program records at Wake Forest in career completions, attempts, total touchdowns, and total yards. In an accomplished collegiate career, Hartman concluded his run tied for third all-time in touchdown passes (134). Further, he is fifth in total passing yards (15,656). The 24-year-old Hartman started 57 games in six seasons.

 

 

Photo courtesy: Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

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