Tyler Eifert will know his new home sooner or later Thursday, and it could be sooner than previously expected.
Two NFL Draft analysts with track records of insight, ESPN's Todd McShay and Yahoo Sports' Greg Cosell, have Eifert going to the Cleveland Browns with the sixth pick.
The No.6 spot is by far the highest Eifert, the former Notre Dame and Bishop Dwenger High School standout, is projected in a perusal of various media mock drafts.
“Conventional wisdom says (tight end) is not a position you take in the Top 10,” Cosell wrote.
Cosell went on to note that only two tight ends have gone that high in the last decade, both at No.6: Kellen Winslow in 2004 and Vernon Davis in 2006.
“Two things to keep in mind,” Cosell wrote, “(Browns coach) Rob Chudzinski was the OC in Cleveland when Winslow had 82 catches for 1,106 yards (the Browns won the AFC North that season), and new OC Norv Turner is a master at utilizing the TE, most recently Antonio Gates, but you can go all the way back to Jay Novacek with the Cowboys in the early 1990s.”
The NFL Network's Albert Breer pointed to Eifert this week as one of the players creating the most buzz as the draft neared.
Breer wrote: “A very clean prospect who will benefit from circumstances here: a) the value of tight ends has never been higher; and b) there aren't a lot of them in this year's draft. There seems to be far more of a league-wide positive consensus on Eifert than Stanford's Zach Ertz, which could lead to a team getting antsy and making a move for the Irish All-American.”
Beyond those observations, a look at mock drafts from various media outlets points to less-than-a-consensus on where Eifert will land.
NFL.com's list of eight experts shows two analysts projecting Eifert to the New York Jets at No.13, two sending him No.26 to the Green Bay Packers, two to the Atlanta Falcons at No.30 and two to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 31. Another team mentioned as a possibility is the Dallas Cowboys at No.18.
“The Packers obviously could trade down with a team needing a quarterback, but some consider Eifert the top skill-position player in this class,” NFL.com's Josh Norris wrote. “His ability to catch the ball at its highest point is outstanding.”
NFL.com's Bucky Brooks says the 49ers could get a steal with Eifert.
“The loss of Delanie Walker makes it imperative for the 49ers to find a tight end with the athleticism and versatility to complement Vernon Davis,” Brooks wrote. “Eifert is a terrific pass catcher with the size to create mismatches between the hashes.”
Sports Illustrated's Don Banks projects Eifert to go to the Chicago Bears at No.20 while CBS.com writers have him going to the Jets, Falcons, 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers (No.17) and Houston Texans (No.27).
The Miami Herald's Greg Cote expects the Dolphins to take Eifert with the No.12 pick.
“I have a hunch about Eifert,” Cote wrote. “Twelve is higher than his typical projection, but I am told GM Jeff Ireland and coach Joe Philbin are enchanted by Eifert, seeing in him what the Patriots have in Rob Gronkowski – somebody who can wreak havoc in the red zone and continue giving Ryan Tannehill all he needs to make it big. Eifert is too tall (6-6) for DBs to cover and too fast for most linebackers. If this choice is a big of a 'reach,' it's a calculated gamble that could hit big for the Dolphins.”
Eifert will await his fate from his family's home in Fort Wayne. A trip to New York, even though he had the chance, wasn't his style.
The sooner he finds out which team has selected him, the sooner his pro career becomes reality. He might not have to wait long.