INDIANAPOLIS -- Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert may qualify as one of the early "winners" of the 2013 combine by posting a eye-popping times of 4.60 and 4.62 seconds in the 40-yard dash Saturday.
Eifert, who also posted an impressive 35.5-inch vertical jump, may have secured his standing as a first-round pick with his performance.
Eifert was more impressive than Stanford's Zach Ertz, the only tight end NFLDraftScout.com currently ranks ahead of the Irish star. Ertz was unofficially credited with a 4.72 on his first attempt but improved to 4.65 on his second try. He posted a surprisingly pedestrian 30.5-inch vertical jump.
While the Stanford star's times were solid, Eifert could see significant boost after demonstrating better straight-line speed than many, including myself, had previously given him credit. Perhaps because of the fact that the 6-5, 250-pound Eifert was often lined up wide at Notre Dame (and thus covered by cornerbacks), he didn't appear to be this explosive.
Some will debate whether Eifert's 40-yard dash time is an example of manufactured speed that doesn't really translate to the field. Regardless, Eifert has an all-around game which projects nicely to the NFL.
He improved significantly as a run-blocker as a senior and now ranks among the better blockers at the position in this draft class. His most impressive traits, however, remain his vacuum hands and body control.
Eifert was consistently able to adjust in space and make the contested grab. His timely grabs likely played a significant role in his landing the Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end in 2012 despite the fact that his production actually dropped from his sophomore to junior seasons. Eifert enjoyed his most productive campaign in 2011, leading the nation's tight ends with 63 catches for 803 yards and five touchdowns. As the focus of the Irish passing attack a year later, Eifert caught 50 passes for 685 yards and four touchdowns in 2012.
As an acknowledgement of Eifert's abilities and his role in Notre Dame's offense, Alabama lined up All-American cornerback Dee Milliner on him when the tight end lined up wide in the BCS title game. Eifert matched his season-high with six grabs in the game but was largely contained, registering just 61 receiving yards in the 42-14 loss.
Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for www.NFLDraftScout.com, published by The Sports Xchange.