With names like Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchy, Ronnie Stanley, and Zach Martin, it’s hard to argue that Notre Dame hasn’t become O-Line U in the last decade. 2021 NFL Draft prospect Liam Eichenberg may be the next name mentioned among that group when discussing past Irish offensive linemen in the NFL.
At 6-foot-6 and 330 lbs, Eichenberg possesses the size and strength to compete on any offensive line immediately. While he is listed as a guard, Eichenberg played tackle for the Irish the last three seasons and was a major contributor for an offense that relied heavily on establishing the run. Eichenberg currently ranks tenth on PFF.com’s offensive lineman listings.
As previously alluded to, the run game was an integral point of focus for Notre Dame, especially with Kyren Williams being the burst of speed that he is. This clip below exemplifies just how much of a presence Eichenberg played in the run game last season.
When reviewing Liam Eichenberg’s film, one aspect of his game that significantly stands out is ability to pass block. Former Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book wasn’t one to stand in the pocket and make throws. Instead, Book would use his legs and try to make plays happen. The clip below illustrates Eichenberg’s ability to be quick on his feet while utilizing his vision allows him to employ his strength to blow back the defender. All of those traits working in unison resulted in Eichenberg not allowing a sack in two seasons.
Beyond the mechanics and statistics, Eichenberg’s grit and passion for the game should not fly under the radar. As an offensive lineman, you typically need both eyes to properly read the defense and execute blocks. In Notre Dame’s win over Florida State last October, Eichenberg took a finger to his left eye, which eventually closed shut as a result of the swelling. Eichenberg missed a few snaps but returned to the game and received a great deal of praise from his teammates.
As a Bears fan, I would love to see Eichenberg pair up with the likes of Alex Bars and Sam Mustipher. However, I don’t see the Bears going with an offensive lineman in the first round, meaning Eichenberg will more than likely be off the board by the time they pick up again.
A more realistic scenario for Eichenberg would be landing in Cincinnati. The Bengals found their quarterback of the future in Joe Burrow and now must protect him. How they view Eichenberg’s best fit, as a tackle or guard, will be interesting to see. With Jonah Williams being one of their best linemen last season, a move back to guard would probably be likely. Eichenberg would immediately boost an offensive line that was ranked 30th by PFF last year after allowing 32 sacks (t-2nd most) and 42 quarterback hits (t-5th most) over the first 11 weeks of the season.
I could also see the Carolina Panthers selecting Eichenberg with the pick after the Bengals in the second round. After trading for Russell Okung, the Panthers will be looking to infuse youth at the tackle position. That’s where the experience Eichenberg gained by stepping in for Mike McGlinchy upon his graduation would come into play.
Eichenberg will likely be a late first- or early second-round selection. With the 2021 NFL Draft class being as strong as it is, especially at the offensive line position, it’s right about where he should go. I think the two aforementioned teams are the most likely destinations upon reviewing several mock drafts. No matter where Liam Eichenberg ends up, it will be exciting to see which young offense will build their strength up front with the Notre Dame alumnus.
Featured Image: Sports Illustrated.