Tyler Eifert was considered the top tight end available in the 2013 NFL Draft after a stellar career at Notre Dame, so it was not surprising he was a first-round pick and the first player taken off the board at the position. But the team that selected him with the 21st overall pick, the Cincinnati Bengals, has Jermaine Gresham in place as their starting tight end and did not appear to be in the market for added depth at the position.
Not that much should be taken from practice sessions in May, but a report from the Columbus Dispatch suggests Eifert lined up at multiple spots, including in the slot, during the first day of the Bengals’ rookie minicamp. The rookie has suggested that Cincinnati’s offense is coming to him quickly, and if that continues through the rest of the offseason he could step into a prominent role immediately.
Gresham has been a productive player, with at least 52 receptions in all three of his NFL seasons, and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has insisted he will remain the team’s starting tight end despite the addition of Eifert. Gresham’s position on the depth chart may remain unaltered, but his fantasy stock is trending downward with the added competition for targets, even if Eifert is used in a multi-faceted role.
The Bengals lack proven options at wide receiver outside of A.J. Green, so Eifert’s ability to be effective as something other than a traditional in-line tight end stands to make him a useful target for quarterback Andy Dalton. At 6’6″ tall, Eifert could particularly become a primary red zone option for the third-year signal caller.
From a fantasy football perspective, Eifert looks like nothing more than a low-end TE2 in 12 and 14-team leagues for 2013 as long as Gresham stays healthy. Dynasty leaguers that are well-situated at tight end, and are able to stash him for a year ideally, should consider Eifert the clear-cut top rookie at the position.