Linebacker Asmar Bilal is one of six players on the Chargers roster who played their college ball at Notre Dame. He’s also one of two former Golden Domers who joined the team as an undrafted free agent following the 2020 NFL Draft.
Bilal enjoyed a very productive career at the prep level for Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis where his play earned him 6A First-Team All-State honors after helping his team to a state title with a 12-2 record while collecting 155 tackles, six tackles-for-loss, five sacks, and an intercpetion. His post-season accolades tallied up quickly and included being named a honorable mention Parade Prep All-American, being invited to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Game, and being ranked as ESPN’s #23 outside linebacker in the country.
After committing to Notre Dame, Bilal spent his first year as a redshirt, adding some muscle molding his body into one that can take a beating at the Division I level. The 2016 season brought with it his first significant playing time at ND when he contributed in all 12 games. He recorded 28 tackles, three tackle-for-loss, and his first career sack. His production took a dip in 2017 where he registered just 17 tackles with 1.5 going for a loss.
Another big play by former BD FB and Track star Asmar Bilal! pic.twitter.com/oYi2bNIRlD— Mike Davidson (@BDtrack) September 30, 2018
Bilal recorded the first 10 starts of his career during the 2018 campaign while playing in all 13 games. He posted a career-high 50 total tackles with three more tackles-for-loss, a pass breakup, and a fumble recovery. He went on to start every game as a senior in 2019, improving his tackle mark to 79, registering 10 tackles-for-loss with two pass breakups and recovering another fumble.
This win was for the seniors - 18-straight home wins to finish out their ND career!— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) November 24, 2019
Our steady linebacker Asmar Bilal earned the game ball for his play in our win over BC.#GraduatingChampions pic.twitter.com/CdWZHQ9omF
As a rookie with the Chargers, Bilal will have to overcome a stacked position group where most of the players in it are similar athletes with comparable skill sets. At 6’2 and a little under 230 pounds, Bilal fits the mold of the team’s Dime linebacker position which has usually been filled by a larger safety in order to compound their coverage skills in apparent passing situations. The other two linebackers signed as UDFAs, Cole Christiansen and Romeo Finley, are 230 and 225, respectively. Kyzir White, Nick Vigil and Drue Tranquill are also around the 230-235 range. All of these guys, sans Christiansen, are also coverage type linebackers, with Tranquill, Finley, and White being former safeties at the collegiate level.
Those who cover Notre Dame football think that, despite not being one of the nine Notre Dame players invited to the 2020 NFL Combine, that Bilal would have tested well among his position. I have to agree with this assessment as the athleticism is apparent in his film. Bilal is the type of player that is going to fly all over the field and either be the first guy at the tackle spot or the one cleaning it up after running from the other side of the field. He was also occasionally used to cover the third wide receiver in Trips formations which is just another testament to hold up in coverage against tight ends and wide receivers, alike.
Notre Dame needs more of this from LB Asmar Bilal (22). Gets downhill under control, sheds a block and makes a play. pic.twitter.com/luKx2NQNhM— Matt Freeman (@mattfreemanISD) September 17, 2019
With a solid six linebackers ahead of him in the pecking order, Bilal will have to show some major chops on special teams if he wants carve out a place for himself among the final 53. Of the linebackers signed as UDFAs, I think Bilal probably has the best chance to stick around on the practice squad. Finley may be his biggest competition, but Bilal’s pedigree in playing for a consistently-dominant defense may be what tips the scale in his favor when that time comes.