Freshman Finals – Grading the Bengals NFL Draft Class

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As colleges across the country lay dormant from the holiday exodus, it seems only fitting that report cards for this year’s draft class be handed out.  Understanding that these young players are only having their first season reviewed, the criteria for this evaluation are based not only on the player’s impact relative to his draft selection, but also with regard to his season-long development (or in some cases, a lack thereof). 

Future or potential impact does not carry significant weight, because to do so would be to grade on a very subjective curve.  Instead, these grades are earned through both on and off the field growth of these players selected during 2013 NFL Draft. 

Sep 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (85) makes a catch during the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Chicago won 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Eifert, TE (1st-Round / 21st Overall)

Easily the steal of the first round, most people did not see the Bengals selecting a tight end with the first pick.  Regardless, Eifert came in and performed like a franchise player right out the gate.

A pleasant surprise has been how effective a blocker this passing tight end has developed into during screen plays and blitz pick-ups.  Alternatively, as largely a receiving threat at Notre Dame, Eifert has been able to break free in space and lay out for a few deep balls, but he has dropped some potentially clutch pass attempts.

Still, his development and NFL-ready ability has made him an outstanding (and hopefully long-time) addition to this Bengals roster.  Grade: A-