The Cincinnati Bengals made Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert the No. 21 overall pick.
Yes, Pro Bowler Jermaine Gresham is still on the roster, so now quarterback Andy Dalton appears to have two elite option to pass to next season, not to mention a guy by the name of A.J. Green.
Call it a good pick, bad pick or a luxury pick, but one thing is for sure—the Bengals managed to select one of the best players in the draft after the middle of the round and, as a result, drastically changed the complexion of the Cincinnati attack for years to come.
Much of the speculation around the Bengals this offseason concerned how the team was going to upgrade the offense and open things up for Green down the field.
Many didn't expect the fix to come from the tight end position.
Then again, not many expected the No. 1 tight end to fall to No. 21. Eifert is a monster of a tight end, standing at 6'6" and 251 pounds. Over the course of his career at Notre Dame, he proved he literally snagged anything out of the air thrown his way.
In Cincinnati, Eifert's addition means the Bengals can run two-tight end sets all over the field and frustrate defenses. Both Eifert and Gresham are capable blockers, so figuring out which one is going out to catch a pass can be confusing.
Not to mention the impact two 6'6" tight ends can have on a game in the red zone while defenses are trying to account for Green as well.
Last season, Green was unable to break free because he was constantly the focal point of the defense. The Bengals lacked a legit No. 2 receiver on the roster, and Gresham was inconsistent at bringing the ball in for notable gains.
Now, defenses have to account for all three, and Eifert could end up being the most productive tight end on the roster. He creates a variety of mismatches against opposing linebackers and safeties.
To start things off during his tenure in Cincinnati, Eifert will likely be listed as the No. 2 tight end on the depth chart.
That could end up just being a formality.
By the time it's all said and done after next season, Eifert and Gresham could be on equal standing.
As it pertains to the offense, Green is obviously the first target most times when quarterback Andy Dalton goes through his reads, but Eifert has a chance to become the No. 2 progression every single snap if the elite hands he displayed in college are anything to go by.
It's also worth mentioning that Eifert is a capable blocker, as is Gresham. They will both still be in on either running plays or passing plays, which gives offensive coordinator Jay Gruden some flexibility in his play-calling.
Additionally, Eifert has the ability to line up as a wide receiver, which Gresham did at times last season. This creates a variety of mismatches and even gives the Bengals the opportunity to line both Eifert and Gresham up at the position in passing situations.
As hinted at, the biggest upgrade will be in the red zone, where the Bengals have struggled in the past.
As far as production and getting the most out of your first-round pick goes, this is as good as it gets. We've already hit the Bengals with an A+ grade for the selection of Eifert.
Did the Bengals make the right move selecting Tyler Eifert?
It's a safe bet that Eifert will be in on the majority of the Bengals' offensive snaps next season despite the presence of Gresham. He's a great blocker and is versatile enough to line up with his hand in the dirt, in the slot or outside the numbers.
With defenses focusing in on Green and paying attention to Gresham because he is a known commodity as a playmaker at the position, Eifert could sneak under the radar as a rookie and put up massive numbers in his debut season.
The Bengals rely on the West Coast offense, which uses short passes to big targets such as Eifert. If he is truly only the third priority for a defense (we're not even counting the impact a potential rookie running back could have) each down, his stellar combination of all-around skills could turn him into one of the bigger contributors for the Bengals next season.
Stats Projection: 55 receptions, 650 yards, seven touchdowns.
All pertinent prospect info courtesy of CBS.
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