The Chiefs have a glaring need at left tackle heading into the NFL Draft. Liam Eichenberg can help fill that need the minute he is drafted.
The Kansas City Chiefs are in a predicament. They have been under heavy scrutiny this offseason for failing to add free agents to a roster that does have obvious gaps. The most important gap of all is the void at left tackle, which was created by the team releasing Pro-Bowler Eric Fisher.
The team had an interest in standout free agent Trent Williams but ultimately lost in a bidding war to the San Francisco 49ers. The 49er’s paid Williams an obscene amount of money, one that even KC general manager Brett Veach was not willing to give. The team also has not shown much interest in other veteran left tackles such as Riley Reiff (signed by the Cincinnati Bengals), Russell Okung, and Alejandro Villanueva.
This makes it seem the team is looking to find a new left tackle in the NFL draft. Protecting the blind side of Patrick Mahomes is a tremendous gamble, but fortunately for Kansas City, this year’s class of offensive tackles is loaded. I have written about some other players the last few weeks, but there is one the Chiefs have a legitimate shot to draft who can be a day one starter in the NFL.
Meet Liam Eichenberg.
A three-year starter for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Eichenberg was the anchor for one of the best offensive lines in the entire nation and has kept the tradition of dominant play at the position alive at Notre Dame. In his final two seasons for the Irish, he didn’t allow a sack and was a first-team All-American in his final season in 2020. He also displayed plenty of pro-ready traits on a regular basis.
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Listed at 6-foot-6 and 302 pounds, Eichineberg is the complete package at left tackle. His technique is nearly flawless, and his effort is unmatched on the field. His pass protecting on any given snap is what coaches show off in clinics across the country. In a league that is dominated by passing the football, Eichenberg already has the technique and functional strength to win reps.
His drive and catch are impressive. He keeps all his weight on his inside leg and is able to mirror the defender and take great angles to provide optimal protection for his quarterback. Ian Book should credit much of his success in 2020 to having great pockets, and that all starts with his blindside being able to win reps, and win them at a high rate. His feet are pro-ready, but his hands are what give him the potential to be a starter for a long time in the NFL. His understanding of hand leverage, and how to take away an edge rusher’s best move are what makes him as good as he is.
It is easy to see his football IQ put into a full display on the field, and in some instances, he reminds me of recently released Chiefs offensive tackle Mitch Schwartz. They both have a great understanding of what their opponent wants to do to win the pass rush, and they both know how to use their own ability to stop the rusher.
I see a lot of Schwartz in Eichenberg, and hopefully that is something that the Chiefs see as well.
The biggest knock on Eichenberg is that he is only an “average” athlete, and that is in large part why I think he will be available at pick number 31 in the draft this year. He may not run the fastest or lift the most, but no one will be timing his 40 or counting his bench press reps on game day.
In the past years, Notre Dame has had an excellent tradition of putting outstanding offensive linemen in the NFL. Zack Martin, Quentin Nelson, Ronnie Stanley, and Mike McGlinchey are all fighting Irish linemen who have been drafted in the first round.
Martin and Nelson have been the two best guards in football the past three seasons, Stanley has been an All-Pro, and McGlinchey has started in a Super Bowl. Eichenberg has one thing in common with all these guys, a desire to dominate the man in front of him, and the ability to play the game with relentless effort. They all give the little extra push at the end of plays that drive defensive linemen crazy and make the difference in winning and losing games.
The upcoming draft will be crucial for the future of the Kansas City Chiefs. They have to find a long-term protector for Patrick Mahomes, and they have to find one that will be able to produce for a long time. It is not crazy to think that Eichenberg could be the potential decade-long blindside protector for Patrick Mahomes. He has the technique, the physicality, and the effort to become a potential All-Pro caliber player. The game is won in the trenches, the Chiefs would be wise to consider Eichenberg as the man to anchor the line for the next several seasons.