Tyler Eifert | Tight End | Notre Dame | 6'6, 251 pounds
Tyler Eifert might be the best tight end to ever come out of Notre Dame. Considering the pedigree the Irish have developed at that position, that's no small statement. Eifert is every bit the talent that Anthony Fasano, John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph were coming out of South Bend.
In his final two seasons with the Irish, Eifert caught 113 passes for over 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns. While his numbers dropped a bit in 2012, Eifert improved as a player refining his route running skills and showing the versatility to line up all over the offense.
Locked in a battle with Stanford's Zach Ertz to be the first tight end off the board, Eifert grades out higher than any prospect as his position in the last two drafts.
Eifert is built more like a receiver and he plays like it. Showing improved route running in 2012, Eifert is a smooth athlete with the quickness to get in and out of his breaks efficiently. He has attention to detail when it comes to running routes, setting up defenders well and using crisp footwork throughout his breaks. Eifert has experience lining up everywhere from h-back to outside as a boundary receiver and is a dangerous threat regardless of where he lines up.
Once the ball is in the air, Eifert is as strong as it gets when it comes to catching the football in traffic. His focus is tremendous and he displays a strong vertical leap to high-point the football and create mismatches in the red zone. Eifert also has outstanding bod control when going up to make catches in traffic or along the sideline and isn't afraid to take a hit in order to make a play. In terms of catching the ball, Eifert's hands are plenty reliable. He also has the strength to fight through contact at the line of scrimmage and get separation against press coverage.
Eifert's biggest problem is his blocking. He struggles as an in-line blocker. Plays with below average leverage and ends up on the ground when blocking far too often to be successful in the NFL. He needs to get stronger off the line of scrimmage and fill out his frame a bit more if he hopes to become a balanced tight end in the NFL.
At the scouting combine, Eifert was grilled with questions about his blocking and insists he is working to improve that area of his game. While he's plenty strong to beat press coverage, Eifert may need to put on weight at the next level. He's built more like a tall wide receiver that happens to play tight end. He's very narrow in his frame and that may be an issue for some teams.
Eifert is a solid tight end prospect. While he leaves something to be desired in terms of blocking, he will be a playmaker in the passing game and create mismatches in the secondary. Eifert might be the most well rounded skill position prospect in the entire draft. He could go anywhere from the mid first round to the early second round.
Pro comparison: Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
Like Dennis Pitta, Eifert shows a willingness to block but isn't particularly skilled in that area of his game. Both Eifert and Pitta are lean in their builds and ely on athleticism to create separation and make plays. Pitta has developed into one of the most underrated tight ends in football, and Eifert may have even more upside than Pitta.