It’s no secret that the Cincinnati Bengals still need an influx of youthful talent to their offensive line this spring. While the signings of Riley Reiff and Quinton Spain have been nice additions, long-term solutions are needed.
While the Bengals may have the opportunity to draft a blue chip offensive lineman at No. 5, other enticing options may have them go elsewhere on the first night. If that’s the case other solid options await them in the later rounds to provide much-needed steadiness up front.
One such solution for them could be Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg.
School: Notre Dame
Position: Offensive Tackle/Guard
Weight: 306 pounds
Projected Round: Late-First/Early-Second
Liam Eichenberg (LT #74) is an experienced left tackle for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He was a team captain and has experience at both left and right tackle. Due to all of this he has been seen as a possible target at 38. Let's watch the film for his on field performance. pic.twitter.com/4M7yXTXtm9— Sans (@bengals_sans) April 22, 2021
“Solid” is a word that describes Eichenberg as a pro prospect and the old draft phrase of “high floor” also applies. However, the “low ceiling” that usually follows isn’t necessarily the case here.
While some pundits have criticized his strength and athleticism, Eichenberg’s workout numbers negate some of those arguments. His Relative Athletic Score (RAS) puts him in the “great” composite agility grade, as does his 33 reps on the bench press.
Liam Eichenberg is a OT prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 8.53 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 166 out of 1124 OT from 1987 to 2021.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 31, 2021
Splits projected, times unofficial.https://t.co/nDDvTJGseW #RAS pic.twitter.com/qwWjhyCU3f
Unfortunately for Eichenberg, he was the heir apparent to Mike McGlinchey, who was a premier prospect out of Notre Dame just a couple of years ago, and the talent chasm between the two is noticeable. An additional knock on Eichenberg is his arm length, which is right around 33”. Because of that, teams may be thinking about kicking him inside to guard, causing him to be available on night two.
Regardless, there are first round traits and pieces of film on him. He’s also known as a finisher and a guy who should be ready to step into a starting role right away. We highly recommend that you check out the tweet video thread above on Eichenberg provided by @bengals_sans, who is quickly becoming a Twitter favorite for Bengals and draft film study.
Eichenberg may not exude the profile of a perennial Pro Bowl player, but he seems to check boxes and do a lot of things at a level that seems to at least be above average. The potential versatility in using him as a guard or tackle is also a plus.
Fit with the Bengals
If the Bengals do take Ja’Marr Chase at No. 5 as many expect, Eichenberg should be on their short list of players to select on Night Two. If the coaching staff believes he can be a starting guard on day one and transition into a developmental tackle to take over for Riley Reiff’s eventual ride into the sunset, that versatility this team has long-valued.
Because the team ostensibly has needs at right guard and a long-term answer at tackle, a guy who has the ability to play both spots makes a ton of sense for the Bengals in Round 2. A killing of two birds with one metaphorical stone, so to speak.
And, while it was Marvin Lewis and Paul Alexander who loved when offensive linemen showed upper body strength, this staff could also like what Eichenberg evidenced with the bench press and on film as a potential mask for the shorter arms.
Still, if Cincinnati opts to go with Jonah Williams and Eichenberg as their tackles of the future, they’re looking at a tandem of two shorter-armed guys anchoring the edges of their offensive line. They could get by with minimal issues, especially with Frank Pollack back coaching the group, but there is risk to that approach.
Overall, Eichenberg seems to be a safe, versatile pick for the Bengals if they go with Chase in Round 1. Oh, and let’s not forget that Eichenberg was a team captain for the Irish in 2020, which is something Zac Taylor and Co. value in their quest to rebuild the roster with high character talents.