Former Notre Dame left tackle Liam Eichenberg certainly has the resume of a first round NFL Draft pick, but that hasn't stopped many an analyst from dropping him out of round one.
Three-year starter at Notre Dame, consensus All-American in 2020, voted the best blocker in the ACC by head coaches and defensive coordinators and the standout Irish left tackle hasn't given up a sack in over 30 games, dating back to September of the 2018 season.
Yet when Eichenberg's name comes up in the "scouting community" the emphasis tends to be on what Eichenberg doesn't have, and that would be the athleticism of a first round pick at offensive tackle. Well, during Notre Dame's Pro Day the Cleveland, Ohio native not only answered those questions, he put up tremendous quickness numbers.
Eichenberg posted a 4.57 in the 20-yard shuttle and a 7.53 in the 3-cone drill, and those numbers put him excellent shape when you compare them to first round picks from the last five years. Eichenberg's 33 reps on the bench press is better than any first round offensive tackle from the last five years.
Here is how Eichenberg's 20-yard shuttle stacks up against first round offensive tackle picks from the previous five draft classes.
Here is how Eichenberg's 3-cone drill stacks up against first round offensive tackle picks from the previous five draft classes.
Here is how Eichenberg's bench press stacks up against first round offensive tackle picks from the previous five draft classes.
The questions about Eichenberg are about his quickness, especially his quickness out of his stance in order to handle speed rushers. Although that hasn't been an issue for him the last two seasons, despite going against a number of very talented edge rushers, it's something analysts point to over and over again.
These numbers don't reflect a player that lacks lateral quickness, or one that will struggle with the change of direction needs at the offensive tackle position, especially the left tackle position.
I'm sure many will still continue to raise those questions, despite Eichenberg's success on the field and highly impressive testing numbers.
It's not just the national analysts that knocked Eichenberg for his athleticism, or lack thereof. Despite putting up outstanding numbers in the agility drills, Eichenberg's athleticism was questioned by Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, at least at it relates to his ability to play left tackle.
"Those who are going to draft him are going to get a plug-and-play guy on the right side," Kelly said during the Pro Day broadcast. "He's probably not a left tackle, if you're talking about that kind of athleticism, you could make the case that maybe he's not a left tackle. At the right tackle position, you plug him in, and he plays right away in the NFL because of his consistency, because he's going to be there every single day."
This was a puzzling quote from Kelly for a number of reasons. To begin, it seemed to be an unnecessary critique of his All-American left tackle, who by the way put up far better athleticism numbers in Pro Day tests than did former Notre Dame star Ronnie Stanley, who has since made a Pro Bowl in the NFL .... as a left tackle.
You would think Kelly would be pumping up Eichenberg the way he does quarterback Ian Book, meaning pushing back on even the slightest bit of criticism and assuring people that Eichenberg's success at shutting down dominant pass rusher after dominant pass rusher for a team that went 33-5 with him in the starting lineup was proof he could play on the blindside at the next level.
For comparison's sake, let's look at Eichenberg's Pro Day numbers compared to Stanley's.
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.57
3-Cone Drill: 7.53
Vertical Jump: 26.5
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.69
3-Cone Drill: 7.96
Vertical Jump: 28.5
Being a right tackle doesn't mean Eichenberg won't be a first round pick, or shouldn't be a first round pick. Former Irish left tackle Mike McGlinchey was drafted No. 9 overall with the intention of being moved to right tackle. But for Eichenberg, a player considered a borderline first round pick, having left tackle as a possibility only enhances the chance that a team takes him in the first round, which obviously would mean more money for him.
For example, the Indianapolis Colts have a desperate need for a left tackle, and they pick at the No. 21. They have a young, entrenched starter at right tackle, so if they are convinced Eichenberg can't play left tackle it likely takes them out of the running. The same is true for the Kansas City Chiefs, who pick at No. 31.
Hopefully among scouts, coaches and executions the combination of Eichenberg's impressive strength, outstanding performance on the field and his top-notch testing numbers will solidify him as a first round pick.
The concern coming out of Eichenberg's Pro Day will now likely be about his length, as the former Irish star measured in with just 32 3/8" arms, which is below the desired number for NFL teams. His length was not considered a question mark coming into the Pro Day, but it could become that now. If you pop in the tape I've never seen Eichenberg's length be an issue, so I don't think it will be something overly concerning to scouts and executives that watched him dominate as a pass blocker the last two and a half seasons.
Eichenberg's tape is that of a first round pick. His resume is that of a first round pick. His athleticism is that of a first round pick. On April 29th we'll find out if he'll actually be a first round pick.
You can listen to former NFL head coach Jim Mora break down Eichenberg here:
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