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.
Eichenberg starts to get noticed
His recruiting stock skyrocketed after his performance in the 2016 Under Armour All-American Bowl game. 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’s accolades come pouring in after a clean ACC championship performance, improves NFL Draft stock
Liam Eichenberg’s stellar season continues, and he’s earned numerous accolades as a result. This week, he was awarded the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given to the ACC’s best blocker. Eichenberg also earned a spot as one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, along with Iowa’s Daviyon Nixon and Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood. The Outland Trophy is awarded to the best lineman in the country. Eichenberg was also named First-Team All-ACC and was placed on the Senior Bowl All-American team. All of this happened within the past week.
Taking a look at the ACC Championship film, it was another good performance from Eichenberg all around. The frustrating tendencies mentioned earlier in this profile popped up again in this game. Clemson was in full attack mode for pretty much all game, sending frequent blitzes and stunts all over the line of scrimmage. There was one rep where Eichenberg did miss on the opening drive, but he quickly settled in after and showed signs of improvement.
Liam Eichenberg vs. Brian Bresee
This game had the worst rep I’ve seen of Eichenberg, and it highlights the importance of fixing his two-hand punch. This rep was at the start of the third quarter. Clemson’s Brian Bresee attacked Eichenberg’s inside. Eichenberg then punches but whiffs as Bresee pulls out a spin move and beats Eichenberg around the outside. As a result, Eichenberg couldn’t recover in time.
Eichenberg isn’t the best athlete at tackle, so he has to be fundamentally sound. Eichenberg ultimately prevented the sack, but it was the worst I’ve seen him get beat this season. Two-hand punches are starting to die out and are somewhat of an old-school coaching point. Your hands in pass protection have to be independent of each other — one outside and one inside. Eichenberg has to get this worked out of him in offseason training before he faces some of the best defensive ends in the NFL.
Liam Eichenberg keeps his perfect streak alive in bid for Outland Trophy
It was another steady game for Liam Eichenberg as the Irish hammered the one-win Syracuse Orange. Notre Dame turned it on in the second quarter and put the game away after a slow start.
Once again, Eichenberg was a rock-solid presence upfront. He handled the frequent stunts and blitzes that Syracuse threw at the Notre Dame offensive line well. However, the Notre Dame offensive line as a whole did struggle on the interior with a few injuries. Eichenberg continued his perfect streak of not allowing a sack since Week 5 of the 2018 season. Yes, 2018! Ian Book did get sacked by a Syracuse rusher this past weekend, and while Eichenberg was the one blocking him, I don’t blame Eichenberg for this snap.
Eichenberg’s lone “sack” more a result of lacking awareness from the quarterback
Eichenberg blocks the rusher for almost five whole seconds on the rep in question and has him engaged practically in the end zone. The defender only gets the sack after Book leaves the pocket and scrambles out toward the rusher. As the defender was already working back inside to beat Eichenberg, he ran right into Book. To me, that sack is on Book and not a “sack allowed” by Eichenberg.
Eichenberg does still have a frustrating tendency to leap up with his pad level immediately. He doesn’t consistently drive defenders on reps where he does this, and he loses all of his leverage almost immediately. It’s a testament to his strength that he stonewalls defenders enough and redirects them despite his high pad level. While that won’t be fixed at Notre Dame, this can be an improved area of his in the NFL and will only help him in the future.
Eichenberg was named one of the six semi-finalists for the Outland Trophy — an award given to the top interior lineman. Eichenberg joined Ohio State’s Wyatt Davis, Alabama’s Landon Dickerson and Alex Leatherwood, Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green, and Iowa’s Daviyon Nixon. He would be Notre Dame’s fourth Outland winner and the Irish’s first offensive lineman to win it since Bill Fischer in 1948. He would also join other offensive tackles like Penei Sewell, Cam Robinson, Joe Thomas, Jamaal Brown, and Bryant McKinnie if he is selected to win the Outland Trophy.
Liam Eichenberg named ACC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week vs. North Carolina
Notre Dame beat a tough North Carolina team on the road this past week, and Liam Eichenberg played a pivotal role in their win. Once again, Eichenberg was rock-solid on a Notre Dame offensive line that took some hits from injuries over the past few weeks. His toughness was on full display against a North Carolina defense that was not afraid to attack Ian Book and the Notre Dame offense with blitzes and stunts. The Notre Dame offensive line reset the line of scrimmage often in the run game and controlled the clock well.
This wasn’t Eichenberg’s best game of the season; Eichenberg got caught a few times shooting his pad level too high out of his stance. The saying “low man wins” rings true, and as a result, Eichenberg lost more reps than he usually does. However, he clearly had a chip on his shoulder, as Eichenberg put several defenders into the turf. Offensive linemen don’t typically have highlight reels, but Eichenberg had one this week when he pass blocked a UNC rusher with one hand during the rep.
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 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 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 hysterical offseason, Eichenberg has been downright dominant and hasn’t been afraid to move defenders.
Eichenberg vs. elite competition
The tape against Clemson showed a tackle who repeatedly blew guys off the ball and opened running lanes with ease. Eichenberg said that Clemson had figured out their pass protection after the game 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. Eichenberg’s physical traits 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
A few teams towards the end of the first round that could use a left tackle. 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 requires 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 pass protection ability stands out in an NFL Draft class that doesn’t have a consensus OT2 behind Penei Sewell.