Senior TE Tyler Eifert – a 2011 and 2012 Mackey Award finalist – was the only tight end on the 2012 Maxwell Award Watch List, an award that goes to college football’s player of the year. He was also on the watch list for the Lombardi award, and was the consensus preseason first-team All-American tight end. He ranks number one all time in catches and yards for a tight end. Given Notre Dame’s historical pedigree at the position (John Carlson, Anthony Fasano, and Kyle Rudolph), that is a very distinguishable accomplishment.
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The first thing I always look at when evaluating a prospect is growth and muscle development during college. When you look at Eifert, he is the epitome of this character defining trait. It is true some player will naturally get bigger but in my opinion it is hard work in the weight room that led to an additional 30+ pounds in college.
What causes Eifert to stand out and be the No. 1 Tight End prospect on some boards is his elite abilities as a receiver. He was clearly the best receiver on Notre Dame, often being split out as a flanker. He has excellent body control in the air and along the sideline. He goes up and gets the ball at its highest point. Notre Dame played to this strength often, targeting even when he was going against the best corner in this draft in Dee Millner. When you watch film on Eifert, its hard to determine whether catching the ball or route running comes more effortlessly as both are silky smooth. When the ball is in his hands, he knows what to do with it. He runs tough after the catch, with no hesitation to run past a defender or through him.
His blocking has improved year after year that made him a good run blocker by his senior year. What you love to see is that even though it isn’t his best attribute, he works as hard as a blocker as a receiver going 110% every play.
He has a big body wide receiver build that he will have to continue to improve upon in the NFL. He can allow the ball to get inside his body when the ball is thrown in tight coverage on intermediate routes but I feel this is generally overcome by his body shielding from a defender trying to rip it out.
His pass protection leaves a lot to be desired as edge rushers abuse him. This is a result of getting over extended with his hand placement and tentativeness. As a run blocker, he gets some push but most of this comes against inferior talents and players smaller than him. In the NFL, he will have to get stronger to deal with powerful edge setters and more consistent with his foot placement when dealing with edge rushers.
Eifert will be a first round pick in the NFL draft. He profiles as a less explosive Jermaine Gresham and after his performance at the combine could be taken as high as 20 to the Bears.
Grade – 8.0