The Draft Range Is Wide For Notre Dame’s Three Interior Line Prospects
When combing through pre-draft rankings and big boards, it seems the only clear consensus on a Notre Dame offensive lineman’s 2021 NFL Draft stock pertains to Liam Eichenberg.
Eichenberg, a three-year starting left tackle, is widely seen as a day-two pick and the favorite to be the second Notre Dame player taken in April’s draft, behind linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. But opinions on tackle-turned-guard Robert Hainsey, guard Aaron Banks and guard Tommy Kraemer have more variance.
Pro Football Focus’ top 300 big board has Hainsey as the No. 124 overall player, guard Tommy Kraemer at 194th and Banks not listed. That’s a contrast to plenty of others, particularly regarding Banks. Opinions on the Irish’s three-year starter at left guard vacillate from possible day-two selection to undrafted free agent.
Matt Miller of The Draft Scout previously told BlueandGold.com he had a “round-three” grade on Banks, a consensus All-American in 2020, and slotted him 100th overall in a recent seven-round mock draft. NFL Draft Bible put Banks at No. 91 in its latest mock. ESPN’s Todd McShay has him as the No. 172 overall player in his rankings, while colleague Mel Kiper Jr. ranks him as the No. 4 guard.
PFF’s projection on Kraemer, meanwhile, is among the more bullish for him.
The ceiling on Kraemer’s projected range is the lowest among Notre Dame’s four linemen in the draft, but that still allows room for a wide range of opinions. Miller did not have him in his seven-round mock. He’s also not listed in McShay’s rankings, which contain 237 players, or among Kiper’s top 10 guards. NFL Draft Bible, though, ranks him as the No. 9 guard — one spot behind Banks and Hainsey — and gives him a sixth-round grade.
Kraemer is the only one of the four who did not earn a Senior Bowl invite. Eichenberg had accepted one, but did not participate for unknown reasons. Kraemer boasts the most experience of the four, starting from 2017-20, the last three seasons at right guard.
Hainsey is seen as a day-three pick, with the potential to go anywhere from rounds four to seven. He was a three-year starter for Notre Dame at right tackle, but is expected to move inside in the NFL. He worked at guard and center during his time at the Senior Bowl in January. He’s 193rd in McShay’s ranking and has a fifth-round grade from NFL Draft Bible.
What’s clear, though, is Eichenberg is expected to be taken long before them — perhaps by the end of the second round. He’s PFF’s No. 54 overall prospect. The outlet credited him with zero sacks and just 27 pressures allowed in 23 games since the start of 2019. A recent mock from PFF’s Anthony Treash had Eichenberg headed to the Arizona Cardinals with the 49th pick.
“From a technical standpoint, Eichenberg is as polished as they come — that’s the key reason why he logged an 89.9 PFF grade in 2020,” Treash wrote. “If we take out his week-six performance against Florida State when he played with a swollen-shut left eye, and Eichenberg is one of the few tackles to earn a grade above 87.0 as both a pass and run blocker.
“He’ll be available in round two because the athleticism is nowhere near some of the other tackles in this class, but he is bound to have NFL success thanks to how advanced he is.”
Owusu-Koramoah, of course, is a projected first-rounder. He’s the No. 18 pick to the Miami Dolphins in Treash’s mock and 19th in PFF’s top 300.
“He has shined in every single facet of play, but especially so in coverage,” Treash wrote. “In that role, Owusu-Koramoah predominantly manned the slot, where he earned the third-highest coverage grade in the FBS. He allowed only five first downs across 200 slot coverage snaps with an interception, four forced incompletions and four passing stops in 2020.”
Elsewhere, PFF included four other ex-Irish players in its top 300: tight end Tommy Tremble (No. 101), defensive end Ade Ogundeji (No. 174), defensive end Daelin Hayes (No. 180) and quarterback Ian Book (No. 260).
McShay’s ranking also included Hayes (No. 77), Ogundeji (No. 80), Book (No. 150), wide receiver Javon McKinley (No. 161) and wide receiver Ben Skowronek (No. 173).
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