ESPN's Todd McShay Slotted Notre Dame Football's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Liam Eichenberg In His 2021 NFL Draft Tiers
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Where ESPN’s Todd McShay Slotted Notre Dame Players In His 2021 Draft Tiers

The way ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay sees it, Notre Dame’s 2021 draft class includes two players who he projects to be at least above-average NFL starters.

McShay released his draft prospect tiers Tuesday morning, and slotted a pair of Notre Dame players in the first four tiers and in the top 40 of his overall rankings. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, his No. 11 overall player in the draft, is one of 12 players in Tier 2, which is a “notch below the elite class but still considered a plug-and-play NFL starter with high-level potential. Worthy of a top-15 pick most years.”

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish football linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is Notre Dame's top draft prospect in 2021. (Associated Press)

Owusu-Koramoah, all told, is McShay’s third-ranked defensive player, behind only Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II. He’s the No. 15 pick to the New York Giants in McShay’s latest mock draft.

“The [Giants’] defense was stellar last season, getting defensive coordinator Patrick Graham a versatile, rangy, fast, instinctive linebacker like Owusu-Koramoah will help keep it that way,” McShay wrote.

Meanwhile, offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg is one of 19 players in Tier 4 — “good future NFL starters. Second-round value.” Eichenberg is McShay’s No. 37 overall player and was the No. 34 pick to the New York Jet’s in McShay’s latest mock.

Lastly, guard Aaron Banks is one of 44 Tier 6 players, who McShay projects to be “future solid starters but need time to develop, have limited upside or come with baggage. Third-round value.” Banks is McShay’s No. 80 overall player.

Fifteenth is on the high end of the projected first-round range for Owusu-Koramoah. In five mock drafts published since April 1, his average draft spot is 24th overall. That includes McShay’s most recent mock and those from NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah (No. 17, Las Vegas Raiders), ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum (No. 28, New Orleans Saints), Pro Football Focus’ Ben Linsey (No. 24, Pittsburgh Steelers) and CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson (No. 36, Miami Dolphins).

Wilson’s mock is the only one of the five that doesn’t have Owusu-Koramoah in the first round. He also has Eichenberg as the No. 48 pick to the Raiders.

Elsewhere, PFF ranks Eichenberg as the No. 13 offensive lineman and No. 54 player. In going through the pros and cons of each position’s top prospects, PFF analyst Anthony Treash cited Eichenberg’s safe projectability and consistency as Eichenberg’s best attributes.

“Eichenberg has a high floor for a day two prospect, with his biggest strength being establishing leverage with his hands,” Treash wrote. “He’s lightning-quick to reset his hands at a low positioning. Along with this, Eichenberg’s experience and overall technique make him one of the “safer” prospects in the class.

“Eichenberg has logged more true pass sets than any Power Five tackle over the last two years (401) without allowing a sack, and it isn’t particularly close. He also made strides in the run game in 2020 by improving his grade in that facet from 78.8 in 2019 to an elite mark of 90.1.”

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The biggest con in Treash’s evaluation is not the oft-cited athleticism concerns Eichenberg downplayed last week, but rather a technical issue.

“If Eichenberg relies on his two-handed punch in the NFL as he did at Notre Dame, he’s going to get fried,” Treash wrote. “Just watch his games against Pitt, Alabama and his second matchup against Clemson. Those were three of his four multi-pressure games of the 2020 season (removing the FSU game when he played with a swollen shut-eye), and almost all the losses were because the more advanced pass-rushers swatted his hands away.

“Some losses were also because he put everything he could into the two-handed punch and didn’t quite land them right on time and got him off balance, which is another con on his scouting report. Eichenberg’s two-handed punch can be deadly and the reliance may not have been a major issue in college, but it will be in the NFL. He has to get better at using his hands independently.”

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