As the tight end position continues to evolve in the NFL, we will start seeing a greater focused placed here in the draft. The likes of Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Vernon Davis have really opened it up for others looking to make a living at tight end.
On that note, I take a look at my No. 1 overall tight end from the 2013 NFL draft class, Tyler Eifert from Notre Dame. He had one of the most impressive careers at this position in the heralded history of the program. Based on production alone, Eifert should be a top 20 pick.
Of course, that's not the way scouts look at it. Today's reports will take a look at where Eifert stands.
| Ht || Wt || Class || Rank || Projection |
| 6'6" || 250 || Senior || 23 || Late First Round |
Size: Eifert will represent a major mismatch for opposing defenses. He is too strong and bulky for defensive backs to cover and has too much athleticism for linebackers to drop back against. He is, in essence, one of these new breeds of tight ends. His size and physical ability make Eifert an immediate impact performer at the next level. At 6'6" and 250, just imagine a nick corner or free safety attempting to get physical at the line against Eifert. In all honesty, it just isn't going to happen.
Hands: Eifert was a product of marginal quarterback play at Notre Dame, but was still able to be productive. Whether he was led into a defender with an inaccurate pass or overthrown, Eifert caught nearly everything thrown in his direction. His hands are probably one of his most underrated skills.
Route Running: This will not be an issue for Eifert early in his career. He runs tight, fluid routes on the outside, and can find seams between the hashes by dropping down on his route. It's this type of route running ability that makes him a near can't miss in the first round of April's draft.
Blocking: Eifert obviously wasn't asked to block a whole lot at Notre Dame, but he is willing to get in there and do so. The primary issue here is that he just isn't too good at it. Eifert gets too high at the point of contact, struggles maintaining his gap and can be pushed off the line by stronger pass rushers and tacklers. This is something he will definitely have to work on in order to become an elite all-around tight end at the next level.
Red Zone: Eifert tallied a total of 11 touchdowns in three seasons with Notre Dame This is surprising considering the physical and height mismatches that he causes down the field. Of course, a lot of this could have to do with poor quarterback play for the Irish. Still, I noticed that Eifert doesn't get off the line as fluid in the red zone as he does outside of it. He tends to be more questionable of his route running, which leads to issues in timing. This needs to be addressed.
Eifert is my consensus No. 1 tight end in a top-heavy draft at that position. He will be an immediate impact performer and should help out either a young or veteran quarterback as a solid threat between the hashes. Equally as important, Eifert can play the slot, much like some of the top tight ends in the NFL. His rare combination of size, athleticism and hands make him one of highest-ceiling offensive players in the entire draft. Definitely worth a first-round pick.