2021 NFL draft: Liam Eichenberg latest in long line of quality Notre Dame OTs

Leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, which starts April 29, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down in groups of five for Nos. 100-51, followed by more in-depth reports on our top 50 players, with help from our scouting assistant, Liam Blutman. We reserve the right to make changes to players’ grades and evaluations based on injury updates, pro-day workouts or late-arriving information from NFL teams.

Other prospect rankings: Nos. 100-96 | 95-91 | 90-86 | 85-81 | 80-76 | 75-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. OT Liam Eichenberg | 49. WR Terrace Marshall Jr. | 48. LB Chazz Surratt | 47. EDGE Joe Tryon | 46. OT-OG Alex Leatherwood | 45. CB Asante Samuel Jr. | 44. DL Levi Onwuzurike | 43. LB Jabril Cox | 42. DT Daviyon Nixon | 41. EDGE Ronnie Perkins | 40. LB Nick Bolton | 39. CB Ifeatu Melifonwu | 38. WR Elijah Moore | 37. OT Jalen Mayfield | 36. EDGE Carlos Basham Jr. | 35. CB Elijah Molden | 34. RB Travis Etienne | 33. WR Kadarius Toney | 32. EDGE Jayson Oweh | 31. LB Zaven Collins | 30. DT Christian Barmore | 29. QB Mac Jones | 28. CB Caleb Farley | 27. RB Javonte Williams | 26. C-OG Landon Dickerson | 25. S Trevon Moehrig | 24. CB Greg Newsome II | 23. WR Rashod Bateman | 22. EDGE Greg Rousseau | 21. OT Christian Darrisaw | 20. RB Najee Harris | 19. LB-S Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah | 18. EDGE Jaelan Phillips | 17. OT Teven Jenkins | 16. EDGE Kwity Paye | 15. CB Jaycee Horn | 14. OT-OG Rashawn Slater | 13. OG-OT Alijah Vera-Tucker | 12. WR DeVonta Smith | 11. EDGE Azeez Ojulari | 10. CB Patrick Surtain II | 9. OT Penei Sewell | 8. QB Zach Wilson | 7. LB Micah Parsons | 6. QB Trey Lance | 5. WR Jaylen Waddle | 4. QB Justin Fields | 3. WR Ja'Marr Chase | 2. TE Kyle Pitts | 1. QB Trevor Lawrence

Here are how we use our prospect grades for the 2021 NFL draft. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Here are how we use our prospect grades for the 2021 NFL draft. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

50. Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg

6-foot-6, 306 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.88 — potential starter

TL;DR scouting report: Extremely solid, reliable left tackle who might never be special in the NFL, but he’s almost guaranteed to start and be good

Games watched: Duke (2020), Florida State (2020), Pitt (2020), Alabama (2020)

The skinny: A 4-star Rivals recruit (No. 198 nationally), Eichenberg redshirted in 2016 before he saw time in five games (45 snaps) as a backup left tackle behind 2018 first-rounder Mike McGlinchey. Eichenberg then went on to start every game over the next three seasons at left tackle. In 2020, he was named second-team AP All-America and first-team All-ACC, was an Outland Trophy finalist, and ACC coaches named him the Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner (given to the top lineman in the conference). Eichenberg accepted an invitation to the 2021 Senior Bowl but didn't participate.

Upside: Experienced — three-year starter who didn’t miss a game over that stretch. Won over scouts and OL coaches when he returned to the field against Florida State in 2020 after having his eye poked — it was nearly swollen shut, but he came back and earned his full allotment tough-guy points.

Battle-tested against some quality pass rushers. Used to the big stage — appeared in two playoff games and one bowl game. Was probably the Irish’s best OL in the semifinals playoff loss to Alabama. Has held up the long-standing left tackle tradition for the Irish well — from Zack Martin to Ronnie Stanley to Mike McGlinchey to Eichenberg.

Strong fundamental base. Looks NFL-ready with his quality pass sets and excellent run-blocking technique. Gets quick depth in pass protection but careful not to overset. Clean feet and terrific balance.

Notre Dame offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg has the look of a solid, steady NFL player. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Notre Dame offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg has the look of a solid, steady NFL player. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Keeps his feet square beneath him and bends and mirrors well. Hand work is mostly good. Patient and smart with good timing on his punches. Gains leverage and turns defenders where they don’t want to go.

Lateral-movement skills are better than advertised. Fairly light on his feet. Able to get to the second level and move out into space on screens and draws. Good body control who can hit moving targets readily. Zero sacks allowed the past two seasons. Asked to sustain blocks longer with run-around QB (Ian Book) who had one of the highest time-to-throw numbers in college football.

More power in his frame than you’d think for a taller, leaner lineman. Plays with good drive and leverage and works his legs through contact. Adept run blocker who takes smart angles and can flush bodies out of the way. Strong seal blocker and very effective on tandem blocks.

Extremely consistent. Strong play temperament — mentally tough. Quiet but driven. Serious, smart, dedicated player. High floor as a prospect.

Downside: Ordinary traits. Not a special or dynamic athlete — not the same caliber specimen athletically as his ND left tackle forefathers. Barely 300 pounds and could be tested more vs. NFL strength. Lack of elite length (shorter wingspan) will hurt him at times against long-arm rush moves. Recovery quickness is merely adequate.

Will give up ground as pass blocker. Can get worked back in the pocket and up into QB’s face. Margins shrink at the next level vs. edge speed and could be taxed until he catches up with NFL rushers. Here's a rep against Pitt's Rashad Weaver, who defeats Eichenberg's hands initially and gets around him for a near sack:

Liam Eichenberg isn't a top-tier pass blocker, sometimes struggling with speed and lunging.
Liam Eichenberg isn't a top-tier pass blocker, sometimes struggling with speed and lunging.

Can do a better job of knocking defenders’ arms down to free up better passing windows. Average block sustain — grip strength looks lacking.

Two-hand puncher who tried to bench press defenders — needs to work hands independently better. Will lunge too much and get off balance. Can get worked over with inside counters — lets too many rushers cross his face.

Penalties (11 flags in 2019) have been an issue at times. Was very hesitant early in his career — lacked that killer instinct. Can be overly technical at times and too concerned with making assignment errors. Needs to let it rip a bit more at times (although he was better at this in 2020).

Has only played left tackle in college games, but some teams view him more as a right tackle. High floor as a prospect, but ceiling isn’t as high as many other tackles in this class.

Best-suited destination: Eichenberg fits into any type of run game and could be tried at either tackle spot. (Some teams even have kicked around the idea of moving him to guard.) He might have some humbling moments early as a pass protector until he gears up to the speed of the league, but Eichenberg just has the look and feel of a 10-year solid pro wherever he ends up. He’s a scheme-independent, high-floor prospect who might never reach Pro Bowl level.

Did you know: Liam’s brother, Tommy, is a linebacker for Ohio State who has played in three games over two seasons.

Player comp: Ryan Ramczyk, but not quite as talented.

Expected draft range: Second round

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