ESPN, already projecting rookie running back Giovani Bernard as a top-ten running back in 2016, continues their position projections for 2016. This time, Gary Horton with Scouts Inc. contributes his thoughts on Bengals rookie Tyler Eifert.
Eifert, as Horton suggests, could very well be a top-ten tight end in three years. Eifert is ranked at No. 9 behind tight ends Jimmy Graham, Kyle Rudolph, Rob Gronkowski, Dennis Pitta, Aaron Hernandez (pending resolution of his legal issues of course), Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, and Rob Housler.
He has a big frame with solid athleticism, and he is versatile enough to play every receiver spot, which means flex and wide, and that means good matchups. With Jermaine Gresham around to give them good two-TE packages and with elite outside receiver A.J. Green, Eifert will get a lot of favorable single coverage. He uses his body well to shield the defender, and he is excellent at catching the ball in traffic. He is extremely competitive as well.
Eifert will likely get a lot of playing time during his rookie season, as defenses will presumably be keying in on Pro Bowlers A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham. Gresham and Eifert should be a menacing duo of human mass attacking the middle of the field in 2013.
One of Eifert's greatest strengths is his pass-catching ability, and if his vacuum hands are in full force early in his career, there's no question Eifert has the ability to shine even in his rookie season.
It's interesting that ESPN's list doesn't project Gresham as a top-ten tight end in 2016, but there's no question that Gresham's ability to coexist with Eifert on the field will largely contribute to the rookie's development as an NFL player.