Over the last decade, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have been an offensive line factory, churning out NFL stars like Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley and Quenton Nelson. Add in other linemen such as Nick Martin and Mike McGlinchey and the Irish have produced some of the best linemen at each position in the NFL. Under Brian Kelly, every single left tackle has been a first-round selection. In the 2021 NFL Draft, Liam Eichenberg looks like he will join that list of players.
Liam Eichenberg NFL Draft Profile
Weight: 302 pounds
Position: Left Tackle
School: Notre Dame
Current Year: Redshirt Senior
Liam Eichenberg landed at Notre Dame as one of their best offensive line recruits in recent years. Eichenberg was a 4-star recruit and was ranked as the No. 7 offensive tackle and the 83rd overall player in 24/7 Sports’ composite rankings in the class of 2016, choosing Notre Dame over Ohio State. He joined 5-star Tommy Kraemer as two of Notre Dame’s biggest recruits that year, and those two have been foundational pieces for the Irish the last few seasons.
Eichenberg was a touted recruit out of Cleveland St. Ignatius, which has manufactured some notable NFL players like LeCharles Bentley, Brian Hoyer, Oliver Luck, Dre’Mont Jones, and another highly-touted offensive tackle currently playing at Kentucky in Darian Kinnard.
His recruiting stock skyrocketed after his performance in the 2016 Under Armour All-American Bowl game, where he participated against other top recruits, including Nick Bosa, Ed Oliver, McTelvin Agim, Keyshon Camp and Oluwole Betiku. He earned a name for himself by routinely stopping the best of the best.
Eichenberg had to wait until the 2018 season before he got his starting shot, sitting behind an eventual top-10 pick Mike McGlinchey for two seasons. Eichenberg started the season rough but improved significantly as the year went on. He didn’t allow a single sack and gave up just one hit on the quarterback in the final eight games of that season, including the Cotton Bowl game against Clemson.
Eichenberg carried the momentum from 2018 into the 2019 season. Eichenberg did not allow a single sack all season long and held up well against top pass-rushers like Kwity Paye, Aidan Hutchinson, Chris Rumph, Victor Dimukeje and Drake Jackson. Pedigree and top competition have helped the Notre Dame offensive tackle develop as a pass protector, and that shows on tape.
Liam Eichenberg paves the road once again vs Boston College
Notre Dame didn’t allow a letdown after beating Clemson two weeks ago. The Irish started off slow but shook it off in the second half on their way to a 45-31 victory over Boston College. The team had a few knocks, bumps, and bruises, but is now undefeated going into their bye week.
Eichenberg was his usual stalwart self on the left side. He had a few misfires in pass protection but did not allow a sack again in this outing. Eichenberg continued his dominance in the run game, too, showing off his improved power. He sealed off several lanes in the run game and continued to clear the way for Notre Dame’s power-run game. It’s hard to argue that Liam Eichenberg hasn’t been just the best tackle in college football, but has been the best offensive lineman in the college ranks so far this season, boosting his NFL Draft stock in the process.
Liam Eichenberg has been the most dominant OT in CFB in 2020
After a few rough patches and stretches of games in 2018 and 2019, Liam Eichenberg’s game has been downright dominant in 2020. In each game of tape I’ve seen, he’s been stonewalling every pass rusher he’s lined up against, including some big-time names like Patrick Jones II from Pitt, Joshua Kaindoh from Florida State, Chris Rumph II and Victor Dimukeje from Duke, and Clemson’s talented defensive line with too many guys to list.
Eichenberg, heading into the season, needed to show a little more strength and he needed to refine his use of hands to take that next step and boost his NFL Draft stock. So far, Eichenberg has delivered. Despite the COVID-19 offseason, Eichenberg has been downright dominant and hasn’t been afraid to simply move defenders.
The tape against Clemson showed a tackle who repeatedly blew guys off the ball and opened running lanes with ease. Eichenberg said after the game that Clemson had figured out their pass protection and that they adjusted at halftime. It was tough sledding at first, as Clemson gave all they got, but Eichenberg held firm against a tough test. His two-hand punch was on full display.
Eichenberg demonstrates a balanced and patient set as a pass blocker. He’s about as clean from a stance and footwork perspective as one would expect from a Notre Dame offensive tackle, showing off good quickness and cadence while deploying different sets.
His first steps are quick, controlled, and balanced. Eichenberg routinely identifies and handles stunts and blitzes against the top defenses, demonstrating the IQ of a seasoned veteran that you’d expect from a three-year starter. The physical traits with Eichenberg are NFL-caliber as well, but closer to average compared to other recent top offensive tackles.
Eichenberg stands at 6-foot-6, 305 pounds with adequate arm length. When Eichenberg hits his strikes, he generates a jolting amount of power, creating leverage against the defender. His hands lock-in and move defenders.
Eichenberg moves well in space and does an excellent job of keeping his feet controlled to engage defenders in space. Notre Dame designs numerous screens that flow towards Eichenberg’s side, and he does a great job of sealing and cutting off linebackers and defensive backs on the move. He understands angles in space and rarely lunges or over-extends when trying to hit his target.
While Eichenberg isn’t the most athletic player at the tackle position in this draft, players like Texas’ Samuel Cosmi are more “athletic” than he is. However, you don’t need to be an elite athlete to be a successful NFL tackle. Players like Mitchell Schwartz and Taylor Decker spring to mind in that regard.
Liam Eichenberg’s best NFL Draft fits
Taking a look at teams towards the end of the first-round that could use a left tackle, teams like the Indianapolis Colts, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Pittsburgh Steelers all stand out to me. Each team has a veteran quarterback that isn’t the most mobile and could either lose their left tackle in free agency or is in need of an upgrade. Having a pass-protecting island at left tackle in Eichenberg who also can dominate in power blocking schemes would be a boon to these three teams.
At the top of the second round in the NFL Draft, Liam Eichenberg would also be a good fit for teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Los Angeles Chargers, who need to protect their young quarterbacks. Eichenberg’s ability in pass protection stands out in an NFL draft class that doesn’t have a consensus OT2 behind Penei Sewell.