Tyler Eifert Selected No. 21 by Cincinnati Bengals
Just one wide receiver was selected in the top 20 picks of Round 1, the elusive Tavon Austin. Not many other players at that position can match what tight end Tyler Eifert brings to the table, which is why the Bengals pounced after Eifert slid to No. 21.
Eifert is a reliable blocker inside, but his real allure is as a pass catcher — at an athletic 6-foot-5, he can stretch the field vertically, while lining up either at a traditional tight end spot or in the slot. Notre Dame even used him split wide at times, trying to maximize mismatches against undersized defensive backs.
In Cincinnati, he’ll pair with current starting TE Jermaine Gresham to give the Bengals arguably the best 1-2 punch at that position this side of Rob Gronkowski-Aaron Hernandez. That tandem ought to make Andy Dalton’s job easier at QB, while also relieving some pressure off A.J. Green, even if not in the same way that an elite receiver would.
Another factor to consider: Gresham’s contract is up after 2014, and Cincinnati will have to deal with locking up a lot of its young talent around that time. Eifert’s arrival might allow them to let Gresham walk.
Grade: B-plus. This was the type of pick a team that believes it can reach the Super Bowl makes. And the Bengals might be right about that level after back-to-back playoff berths. Eifert does not fill an obvious need for them, but this is a savvy pick and one that makes the team better.