Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert is widely considered the top tight end prospect in this year's class and will likely come off the board in the first round. His size, speed, pass catching ability and versatility are custom-made for modern NFL offenses, and his sustained production makes him as safe a choice as there is on this year's board.
Eifert played in one game as a freshman for the Fighting Irish before a back injury took him out of the lineup for the rest of the season. In 2010, he caught 27 passes for 352 yards and a pair of scores. He became the true focal point of the Irish attack in 2011, catching 63 passes for 803 yards and five touchdowns, finishing behind only Michael Floyd in all three categories.
His production dipped in 2012 as the Notre Dame offense focused on the running game, but he led the Irish in all three receiving categories (50 catches, 685 receiving yards, and four touchdowns). Going into the year, Eifert was named a consensus first team All-American pick.
Tyler Eifert vs. Stanford (via DraftBreakdown.com)
Pros: At 6'6 and 250 pounds, Eifert provides the big target and match-up problems offensive coordinators desire from tight ends. He can use his size to screen out defensive backs and possesses enough speed and quickness to separate from linebackers in coverage. As a former wide receiver, Eifert has the experience and ability to split wide when necessary, and his hands are better than most tight ends.
Cons: Eifert is not a good blocker, even at the college level, and will have to improve his form if he is to be an every-down tight end at the next level. He has enough quickness to separate from most linebackers, but does not accelerate particularly well and may take too much time getting to the seam for an NFL offense. The 2009 back injury that prematurely ended his freshman season is of some concern, as back injuries do not go away quickly.
Eifert is ranked 16th on the current SB Nation Big Board, just behind teammate Manti Te'o. Mocking the Draft has him drafted 20th by the Chicago Bears. Dan Pompei says it would have to be at minimum a serious thought for Chicago.
Atlanta could pounce on Eifert if Tony Gonzalez retires, should he fall to them at the 30th pick. In the unlikely event that he falls out of the first round, Eifert could be a potential selection for the Buffalo Bills.
Here is some of what's being said on twitter about the tight end:
1.) Tyler Eifert - #NotreDame - Big, athletic target is a threat both in the redzone and deep downfield. Late 1st-Early 2nd— Ryan Lownes (@ryanlownes) January 25, 2013
30. #Falcons - Tyler Eifert: Obvious fit for the Dirty Birds is obvious. Eifert is a great TE prospect who is a sensible pick for them.— Ethan Hammerman (@Ethanhamm) January 23, 2013
If you want to follow Eifert, check out his handle @EiferTy80