How Good Was New Orleans Saints Rookie Starting Quarterback Ian Book at Notre Dame?

The New Orleans Saints head into a Monday Night Football tilt against the Miami Dolphins will playoff implications aplenty. Ravaged by coronavirus (COVID-19) and injuries, Sean Payton will turn to a new face at quarterback. Ian Book will make his NFL debut. Before making it to the league, he was a standout for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

How good was Book at Notre Dame, though?

Ian Book will make his first NFL start on ‘Monday Night Football’

Former Notre Dame QB Ian Book playing for the Saints
New Orleans Saints quarterback Ian Book looks on before game against the Tennessee Titans | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Ian Book has yet to take a regular-season snap in the NFL. That will change when he makes his first career start against the surging Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.

Veteran quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian both tested positive for coronavirus in the past week and won’t be available for the contest.

The 23-year-old signal-caller from El Dorado Hills, California is preparing for the biggest game of his life. Naturally, he’s excited about the unique opportunity.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” said Book per ESPN. “I’m gonna be pretty buzzed. I don’t know what it’s gonna feel like. I’ve played in big games, but I think this is the biggest, obviously. This is Monday Night Football. I grew up watching prime-time football since I was a little kid. It’s a dream.”

The Saints rookie played four seasons at Notre Dame

The New Orleans Saints selected Ian Book with the No. 133 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The rookie quarterback enjoyed a successful career at Notre Dame.

Book arrived at Notre Dame as a three-star prospect out of Oak Ridge High School, per 247Sports. As a freshman, he ended up fourth on Brian Kelly’s depth chart, behind DeShone Kizer, Malik Zaire, and Brandon Wimbush. As a result, Book redshirted during the 2016 college football season.

Book was the backup in 2017 but officially took over the starting quarterback gig in 2018. The California native threw for 8,948 yards, 72 touchdowns, and just 20 interceptions in four seasons at Notre Dame.

As a junior, the quarterback helped lead the Fighting Irish to an impressive 12-0 record and the program’s first appearance in the College Football Playoffs.

Book won 30 games as a starter, which is the most in Notre Dame football history. His 72 career touchdown passes rank second all-time in the program’s history.

What analysts were saying about the Fighting Irish QB

Even though Ian Book was the winningest starting quarterback in Notre Dame program history, he didn’t project as a high draft pick coming out.

Analysts gave mixed reviews on Book heading into the 2021 NFL Draft.

  • “Book’s NFL resume isn’t quite as impressive; as he’s an undersized passer who has thrived on extending plays outside of structure and relied on some dynamic skill players to win 50/50 footballs for him down the field.”The Draft Network‘s Kyle Crabbs
  • “He’s a capable runner and a plus athlete but doesn’t have the necessary play traits to make a splash in the NFL.”NFL.com‘s Lance Zierlein
  • “Ian Book is just a good college quarterback, consistent week in and week out.” – ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

While some analysts were nicer than others, the consensus was that he enjoyed a level of success in college football that he wouldn’t reach in the NFL.

Ian Book is a proven winner. That’s undoubtedly true. However, there’s something to be said about him not getting taken until the fourth round. Considering Jameis Winston’s season-ending injury, Book was the Saints’ fourth option at quarterback.

The Notre Dame product has a fantastic opportunity to prove his worth at the next level against a top-10 defense with playoff implications at stake.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

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