I have to admit. Trying to evaluate any Notre Dame player is hard for me. I’ve grown up as a Notre Dame fan, idolizing the players who wear the golden domes every Saturday during the fall. So this is actually one of the harder previews I’ve done thus far. But, oh well. Here goes. Tyler Eifert (6′ 6″, 251 lbs.), the Mackey Award winner for best tight end in the country in 2012, caught 140 passes for 1840 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career at South Bend, with 50 of those catches, 685 of those yards and 4 of those touchdowns coming during Notre Dame’s 12-1 season. Various sources have either him or Stanford’s Zach Ertz as the top tight end in this year’s draft. The question that remains is, will he be a good NFL tight end?
I’ll try to answer that by evaluating Eifert on these categories: Agility, Pass Blocking, Run Blocking, Route Running, Hands, Speed, Size, Release, Run after the catch, and Health.
Tyler Eifert has very good agility. In the Purdue video, there was a pass play where he had to change directions and completely lost the guy who was covering him because of how quick his feet were and how loose his hips were (4:18). Eifert definitely possesses the ability to change direction as a runner and route runner. On his pass blocking, his agility could be a little bit quicker, but it’s not bad and reps in practice can definitely help change that. 8.5/10.0
Due to the fact the Notre Dame really liked to line Eifert out wide, I really only saw him pass block once on the line (5:24 Purdue). That block was pretty good. Held off a defensive end long enough for Everett Golson read the defense scramble a bit and throw the ball away once he realized that no one was open. 8.0/10.0
I think that Eifert is a solid run blocker. In the Purdue tape at 5:09, Eifert pancakes a Purdue defender (either a corner or a safety, I can’t tell but I think it’s a corner) on a run play. He is very technically sound both on the line and when he is lined up wide. Gets low, gets his hands inside, and drives linebackers and DBs away from whoever has the ball. There are times when a backer can rip through him, or he can get juked by a DB pursuing the ball carrier. In the NFL, Eifert looks like he will let defensive ends pull him down and he looks like he will have a tough time getting his reach blocks against quicker ends. Stronger linebackers rip through his blocks now and will continue to do so in the NFL. He just needs to use his hands more and more effectively. At 1:31 in the BYU tape, Eifert pancakes BYU LB Spencer Hadley. If he can do that all the time in the NFL, he’ll be a great run blocker. 8.25/10.00
Eifert is technically sound when running his routes. As I mentioned in the agility section, he can turn direction on a dime, so any slant, post, or out route is good for him. I really like Eifert as a route runner. This is one of his greatest assets, so he should use it to his advantage. 9.0/10.0
Eifert has GREAT hands. Best example from the Purdue game is at 4:38. He catches the ball while on top of a linebacker and holds on to the ball as he falls to the turf inside the Purdue 5. He also almost had a touchdown over double coverage (corner and linebacker) earlier (at 2:45) but the ball got knocked out of his hands right before he hit the ground. At 1:40 of BYU game has to go up and catch the ball at it’s highest point, and secures it with his hands. He sometimes uses his body to catch the ball, which is not good, but usually has great hands. 9.0/10.0
Eifert runs a 4.80 40 and in pads he can out run pretty much any linebacker. He can’t out run many DBs, but his size gives him advantages over them. He has a good burst off of the line. 8.5/10.0
At 6′ 6″, 251 lbs., there isn’t much not to like about his size. He can get above just about any defensive player that might cover him and he has the size to be a great blocker. Now he just has to put that size to use in the pros. 9.0/10.0
As I said in speed, Eifert comes off of the line very well with a huge burst of speed. Not the greatest at disengaging from pass coverage, he can get tied up with DBs and miss passes because of it. But overall, he has a good release. 8.5/10.0
RUN AFTER THE CATCH:
As a tight end, Eifert’s not the greatest at running after the catch. He’s not going to out run a DB, but he can break tackles and use his agility to juke defenders and get a few extra yards. He’s very strong and that can be seen in his stiff arms and when he breaks tackles. 8.5/10.0
Never injured that I can find. Great sign for his NFL future. 10.0/10.0
Eifert gets an overall rating of 8.73/10.00 from me. Eifert is strong, fast, has great hands, and has ton of potential as a blocker. I haven’t seen much of Zach Ertz, but I believe that Eifert won the Mackey Award for a reason over Ertz and is the top TE in the 2013 Draft. Not many teams have great tight ends (New England and Baltimore being exceptions to that), so where exactly he will go is a hard thing to predict. Minnesota is definitely out, they just picked Notre Dame’s last great tight end, Kyle Rudolph in the 2011 Draft. And as I look through the draft order, the only two teams that I see that will be thinking about drafting a tight end will be Chicago and Atlanta. The Bears haven’t had a good TE in years, and let’s face it. Tony Gonzalez’s career is rapidly coming to a close and the Falcons need to find his replacement. I’m not sure that the Bears will be looking for a TE in the first round, so look for Eifert to head south to Atlanta and join the Falcons. He couldn’t have a better mentor than Gonzalez.
Let me know what you think and follow me on Twitter! @J_Vinton52
Next, I’ll be previewing WR Keenan Allen, California!