Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2021 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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26 MAY 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL AND LOU SOMOGYI I f Liam Eichenberg perused the In- ternet for breakdowns of his NFL Draft stock, the findings wouldn't be anything new to him. Eichenberg, Notre Dame's three-year starting left tackle, understands there are some questions around his athleti- cism. He feels strongly enough about the narrative that he took part of his Notre Dame Pro Day media session to address it. His view wasn't an outright dismissal of the veracity, but an em- phatic downplaying of its importance. "The athleticism, if you turn on my tape, I think I blocked every- one I played against pretty well," Eichenberg said. "People who say that [about athleticism], I don't think they understand football very well and definitely don't watch my tape. I think my tape speaks for itself based on my athleticism and ability to play at the next level." What stands out as much as the good is the absence of bad. Eichen- berg's early round projection is built on his consistency and fundamen- tally sound approach in three years of blocking some of college football's top edge players who became early round draft picks, including Clem- son's Clelin Ferrell (No. 4 overall in 2019) and Michigan's Rashan Gary (No. 13 overall in 2019). The 6-6, 302-pound Eichenberg hasn't allowed a sack since October 2018 and surrendered only one quar- terback hit last season. He allowed just two quarterback pressures in two 2020 games against Clemson. Whether he was blocking someone off the NFL radar or a future million- aire, chances are Eichenberg won a healthy share of the reps. "The biggest selling point for me is I think I'm consistent," Eichenberg said. "I'm a guy you can plug in and play right now. I'm not a guy who needs a lot of development. I think I've been coached well. I use my technique and fundamentals well." Draft analysts seem to agree. Al- though the athleticism questions have contributed to Eichenberg's ab- sence from the first round in most mock drafts, he's widely seen as un- likely to slip past the second round. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.'s lat- est mock draft, though, went as far as to include Eichenberg at the end of round one, as the No. 31 overall pick to the Kansas City Chiefs. If Eichenberg is a first-rounder, he would be the fourth straight Irish left tackle to be taken among the first 32 picks. But Kiper's projection there is among the bolder ones. Yahoo! draft analyst Eric Edholm ranks Eichenberg as the No. 50 player in the draft. The Athletic's Dane Brugler slotted him 48th in his top 100. A recent two-round mock draft from Pro Football Focus had him as the No. 51 overall pick. "Overall, Eichenberg does not have the athletic traits of past Notre Dame tackles," Brugler wrote. "But he is strong at the point of attack with con- sistent hands, technique and intel- ligence. He projects as a B-level NFL starter." Since Notre Dame's 2020 season ended, Eichenberg hasn't provided any reason to change his projection for better or worse. Pro day was the lone widely viewable opportunity for NFL teams to see him during his pre-draft training. COVID-19 claimed the traditional NFL Combine format in Indianapo- lis and therein turned individual schools' pro days into the only real chance to do the normal combine drills. Eichenberg was invited to January's Senior Bowl, but did not attend. That decision was rooted in some COVID-19 concerns and the comfort of letting his three seasons serve as the main basis for evaluation. "I had a good season; my body was a little beat up," Eichenberg said. "For me, it was focusing on improving my numbers for pro day and also focusing on football from a technique standpoint and not making my body worse." He trusted his tape. He hopes NFL teams will do the same. OWUSU-KORAMOAH ON THE VERGE OF HISTORY It is not really a question of whether 2020 Butkus Award winner and unanimous All-American Jer- emiah Owusu-Koramoah will be a first-round pick, but rather how high. In the NFL Draft to be held April 29-May 1, Owusu-Koramoah DRAFT SEASON Top draft prospects Liam Eichenberg and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah were among the 16 players at Notre Dame's Pro Day Eichenberg — a 6-6, 302-pound left tackle who hasn't allowed a sack since October 2018 and surren- dered only one quarterback hit last season — is viewed as a second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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