From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#74 Liam Eichenberg/OT Notre Dame – 6’6/1 302
– Impressive size and seems to have good length
– Quality athlete, explodes out of stance and gets to his spot quickly
– Good feet and overall mobility, able to mirror and seal speed rushes upfield
– Plays with tight, controlled hands and shows power on his punch
– Good balance overall, not often on the ground
– Sound base in pass pro most of the time, great knee bend and sinks hips in pass set
– Overall, feet/hands work together throughout his slide
– Shows nasty demeanor, desire to finish blocks in run and pass game
– Great leg drive, makes up for lack of innate strength, and creates movement with effort and finish
– Good eyes in stunt/blitz recognition and pickup
– Tons of starting experience
– Lacks elite strength as a run blocker
– Feet will go dead on his punch, making him vulnerable to losing the edge or allowing inside rushes
– Will struggle most with bull rushes and pass rushers who play with power
– Good quickness out of stance but isn’t particularly fleet of foot downfield on screens and out in space
– All starts came at LT, doesn’t have much versatility
– Graduate senior, older than typical prospect
– 37 career starts for the Fighting Irish, all at left tackle
– Turned 23 in January
– All-American 2nd Team Selection in 2020
– Four-star recruit out of HS, had 15 offers, chose Notre Dame over Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State, among others
Eichenberg is in that Tier 2 class of tackles, fighting to be the next one off the board after the likes of Oregon’s Penei Sewell and probably Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater. And Eichenberg has a solid case to be that guy. He’s a combination of size, lateral mobility, and the nasty all good offensive linemen should have.
Eichenberg is a good athlete. Not so much out in space on screens but he’s explosive out of his stance, he builds his house in his pass set very quickly. Bends at the hips and knees and he’s able to slide and seal against speed rushes when his feet/hands are working together. Most times, they’re in sync.
While he isn’t tremendously strong like some other tackles and I wouldn’t call him a mauler in the run game, he plays with good leverage, great leg drive, and it allows him to create movement as a down blocker in the run game. He’s also athletic enough to reach and stick at the second level, an area where Pittsburgh’s o-line has struggled the last two seasons.
And he’s functional as a base blocker. It’s not why you draft him but he isn’t a liability either.
Love Eichenberg’s old-school approach. He’s got some kick-your-butt mentality in him. See it in pass pro but this is my favorite rep that shows it in pass pro. End of his rep, not even the guy he was blocking, but he nails the DT at the end just to let him know he’s there. That’s the type of dude the Steelers’ o-line needs.
The number one issue I see in his game is a fixable one. He has a tendency to stop his feet on his punch while he’s shooting his hands. It causes him to widen his base and give up the edge or inside counters. Left tackle here in this year’s CFB playoffs against Clemson. Able to recover and seal the edge but great look at his feet stopping as he punches.
As noted in the “Bad” section of the report, he’ll have some issue with bigger/stronger rushers who want to win with power and bull rushes. Can be walked backwards. Great clip of that from Ben Fennell, though I give Eichenberg props for being able to give a little ground and anchor.
Azeez Ojulari has more functional power than I thought. He’s the loosest speed rusher, best high side rusher in the class – but he can win other ways too!
Power rush vs Eichenberg 👀
Ojulari is an advanced pass rusher & having hard time not calling him EDGE1 in 2021 NFL Draft pic.twitter.com/moLUaiqUpa
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 5, 2021
I’m not ready for final OT rankings in this class but Eichenberg might be my favorite of the Tier 2 group. Even higher than Alex Leatherwood and I’d rank him above Texas’ Samuel Cosmi. Eichenberg is a little older than you’d like at 23 but we’re talking about an OT, not a RB or WR. Those guys can play well into their 30s. Wouldn’t be mad if the Steelers took this guy at #24 and made him their left tackle.
Buckle up, strong comp coming for this one. At his ceiling, I see the next Joe Staley, one of the best tackles of his era. Even at Eichenberg’s floor, I see Jake Matthews, a consistent, starting-caliber player who flirts with Pro Bowl status.
Projection: Late First Round
Games Watched: at Georgia (2019), vs Florida State, at Pitt, vs Clemson