2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Liam Eichenberg
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Eichenberg won the left tackle job for 2018 as the replacement for Mike McGlinchey. Initially during the spring of 2018, Eichenberg was going to be competing at right tackle for Notre Dame, but he outperformed teammate Robert Hainsey, among others, to take the left tackle spot. Eichenberg was solid, but not overly impressive, for Notre Dame in 2019. He was wise to return for his senior year. Eichenberg was dominated by Michigan edge rusher Chase Winovich in the 2018 season opener, but after that, Eichenberg was much better for the Fighting Irish and did a good job of protecting quarterback Ian Book.
As a senior, Eichenberg played really well for Notre Dame. He did not allow a sack all year and was credited with allowing just three quarterback hits and nine hurries on 496 pass plays. The Fighting Irish had a steady and effective rushing attack, helped by Eichenberg's work on the ground.
As a run blocker, Eichenberg is a contributor, but not a difference maker. He lacks elite strength, so he is not a true bull in the ground game who will blast defensive lineman off the ball or push them around the field. Eichenberg is more of a scrapper who ties up defenders, manipulates them, and turns them away from getting in on tackles. While Eichenberg is not a power run blocker, he does a nice job of firing downfield or to the perimeter and is effective at hitting blocks in space on second level defenders. In the NFL, Eichenberg would be a better fit for a team that runs more zone run plays over power man.
In pass protection, Eichenberg has solid feet and quickness to get depth in his kick slide and cut off edge rushers. He also displays a nice ability to bend at the knee, and that in combination with his feet, keeps him from having to reach after edge rushers very often. Sometimes he oversets, but generally Eichenberg shows good technique. With a solid base, Eichenberg can anchor against bull rushes and keep himself from getting pushed into the quarterback. Eichenberg may have problems with good NFL pass rushers due to his lack of elite speed, athleticism and feet. He could be solid, but not a tackle who pitches shutouts on quality pro edge defenders.
Eichenberg has good enough feet, quickness and athleticism to be a left tackle at the next level, but he isn't elite in those areas. Top speed rushers in the NFL could give him problems when they come flying around the edge. Eichenberg could stand to improve his ability to get depth to cut off smaller, faster rushers. In the NFL, especially early in his career, he might need some help when he's going against an elite pass-rusher.
Multiple team sources said they graded Eichenberg as a late second- or early third-round pick. They feel that Eichenberg is a solid football player, but they do not feel he has the skill set of a first-round pick or a top-20 player. Eichenberg is not viewed as the same caliber of athlete as the four 2020 offensive tackles who went in the top half of the first round: Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton and Tristan Wirfs.
Team sources said that while Eichenberg is viewed as having second-day talent, it is not impossible for him to sneak into the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Typically, teams do not have 32 players with first-round grades, so some players graded for Day 2 get drafted on the opening night of the draft. There also has been a trend of some offensive linemen sneaking into the first round even though the league scouting consensus had them as second-day players. That group includes Kaleb McGary, Laken Tomlinson, Joshua Garnett, Germain Ifedi, D.J. Humphries and Cedric Ogbuehi. Thus, sources say that Eichenberg has a shot at being one of those players given that he plays a premium position that causes teams to reach. However, they feel given his skill set, he belongs on the second day of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Eichenberg's career performance looks like he could be a future starting left tackle in the NFL and a solid player but not among the elite at the position. I think Eichenberg could be a quality starting left tackle and has the chance for some Pro Bowl appearances during his career. I don't think Eichenberg will be an elite shut-down left tackle like a Joe Thomas, who could go against the best edge rushers in the league and erase them. Still, Eichenberg could be a solid starting left tackle and is worthy of an early-round night selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Mike McGlinchey. For the NFL, Eichenberg reminds me of a lesser version of McGlinchey. Eichenberg does not have as good of a skill set, but they have similar style of play.
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