Grading the Cincinnati Bengals’ First Round Draft Choice
As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Notre Dame Tyler Eifert with the 21st pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. Although this has come as a shock to some, the Bengals had made it clear that strengthening their offense is the most important thing that they need to have a real chance at the Super Bowl in February 2014. There was a popular consensus that the Bengals would select Alabama running back Eddie Lacey at 21, but it seems that they took the chance that he will still be there at 37, and instead decided that giving quarterback Andy Dalton an extra pair of hands both on the line and in the open field was most important.
At 6’5″ and 252 pounds, Eifert is a nightmare in the open field because of his size, but he also has an excellent pair of hands that made him the Fighting Irish’s top target in the end zone last season. Eifert was targeted 15 times in the end zone last season, nine more than any other Fighting Irish player, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Tyler has an ability to gain yards after the catch like almost no other tight end, and has been seen dragging linebackers down the pitch, holding on to him, but unable to stop him.
With an excellent 4.6 second 40-yard dash and a 35.5″ vertical leap, Eifert is able to compete with most cornerbacks, having a breakaway speed similar to a receiver, but the frame of a tight end means that he is a huge threat to any defense that will give him so much as a yard. In that way, he is just like San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis and with a few seasons under his belt, could easily put up the numbers that Davis has over the last few seasons.
Although he doesn’t have a strong release speed from the line, he is able to pull his speed up quickly, so the only main issue remains with his blocking. Although he is able to help out effectively with the run, he often has issues with the pass rush and can become overwhelmed by the blitzer.
The Bengals made a great decision to take the best available player at 21, and will add a lot of potency to an ever-strengthening offense.
Simon Greene – Cincinnati Bengals Writer. Follow Simon on Twitter @simongeene88