Summary: Eifert spent the past few seasons becoming one of the best tight ends in college football. He was a reliable and consistent producer in the Notre Dame passing game.
Eifert debuted as a sophomore in 2012 with a solid 27 receptions for 352 yards and two touchdowns. He made big improvements as a junior and was a perfect complement to Michael Floyd. Eifert was lethal in the middle of the field. He racked up a lot of yards and receptions while Floyd was commanding double coverage. Despite less than stellar quarterback play, Eifert caught 63 passes for 803 yards and five touchdowns.
Eifert could've been in the running to be the top tight end in the 2012 NFL Draft, but decided to return to South Bend. The senior saw constant double teams this season since Floyd was gone and playing for the Arizona Cardinals. Eifert hauled in 50 passes this year for 685 yards and four touchdowns. He was one of the few Notre Dame players who held their own against Alabama with six receptions for 61 yards. While Eifert saw bracket coverage, the Fighting Irish were terrible at getting the most out of him. The team's quarterback play was extremely inconsistent.
Eifert is an NFL-ready pass catcher. He has good speed running down the middle seam with excellent hands. Eifert is fearless leaping in the middle of the field to make tough catches despite knowing that massive hits are coming his direction. He showed real toughness for the Fighting Irish. Eifert is very good on third down to help move the chains. He gains separation on linebackers and is too big for defensive backs. Eifert should be a real contributor in the passing game early in his NFL career.
Eifert made a lot of improvements in his run blocking for 2012, including added strength and improved technique. He made real strides in his final season. Eifert needs to continue that in the NFL, especially if he's drafted into a power-man scheme.
Eifert was the most impressive tight end at the Combine. He showed off better athletic ability than expected. Eifert blazed a 40-yard dash time of 4.68; one of the fastest times for any tight end. He helped establish himself as the top tight end for the 2013 NFL Draft with his Combine performance.
There is a possibility that Eifert could be a first-round pick. If he slides out of the first round, he won't last long in Round 2.
Player Comparison: Jason Witten. Witten is one of the best tight ends in the NFL, so this is lofty praise for Eifert. The two share similar playing styles terms of their playing style. Both players are reliable receivers with surprising speed to get downfield. Witten (6-6, 261) is 10 pounds heavier right now, but it wouldn't be surprising if Eifert hits 260 after spending time in a strength and conditioning program.
The Cowboys stole Witten in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft, and if that draft was redone, Witten would be a first-rounder. Eifert will go a lot earlier. If Eifert pans out, he could turn into a tight end like Witten.
NFL Matches: St. Louis, Seattle, Green Bay, Houston, Atlanta, Miami
There are a number of teams that could draft Eifert in the back half of the first round. The highest that he could hope to go is probably to the Bears with the 20th overall-pick. Chicago general manager Phil Emery has stated that finding a tight end to work the middle of the field is a top priority. Emery badly wants a receiving tight end like Eifert.
Another option is St. Louis at No. 22. The Rams could use another tight end to pair with 2011 second-round pick Lance Kendricks. Staying in the NFC West, Seattle could use a good receiving tight end for Russell Wilson.
The Packers could dump Jermichael Finley this offseason and taking Eifert as a replacement makes some sense. He would fit their offense well.
Houston has a good tight end with Owen Daniels, but doesn't have any depth behind him. If Eifert is the best player available, the Texans could take Eifert to add a double-tight end dimension to their offense.
The Falcons could consider Eifert as their replacement for Tony Gonzalez. If Eifert falls into the second day, he shouldn't slide past Miami. The Dolphins need a receiving tight end to work with Ryan Tannehill.