The Miami Dolphins made a trade during the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, moving up from the 50th position to the 42nd spot in a deal with the New York Giants. Miami added a 2022 third-round pick to make the deal work. The target in the trade-up? Notre Dame offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg.
It was an aggressive move to ensure the Dolphins got the lineman they wanted to, hopefully, would out their starting five charged with protecting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Our The Phinsider round table, featuring Justin Hier, Josh Houtz, James McKinney, Kevin Nogle, and Craig T. Smith, discussed the Eichenberg pick.
Hier: “I absolutely love the way Miami is going all-in on Tua Tagovailoa with this draft class and free agency class. More playmakers? Check (Will Fuller & Jaylen Waddle). Waving farewell to Chan Gailey? Check. Reinforced offensive line? Check (Robert Hunt’s shift to guard, Eichenberg, & Matt Skura). Eichenberg was one of the most consistent pass protectors in all of college football during his tenure at Notre Dame, and though he spent a great deal of his time at left tackle, he said during his talk with the media following his selection that he’s willing to play anywhere on the line that he’s asked. It remains to be seen how Brian Flores and his staff will organize the starting five given Hunt’s shift inside Ereck Flowers’ departure, but Eichenberg will almost certainly be a part of that group.”
Houtz: “Up until this point, one of my only gripes with the current regime is that despite liking a player, they never really used their war chest of draft capital to move up and acquire that prospect. Then they went ahead and silenced the critic(s). The Miami Dolphins didn’t just like Notre Dame offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg; they love him—so much that they gave up a 2022 3rd round draft pick. Now I’m not sure how to feel about the draft capital, but it is significant. Nevertheless, the team believes he—like all of this year’s class—can come in and make an immediate impact.”
Nogle: “Once the Dolphins traded up, I thought it had to be for an offensive lineman, but I did not know who. Eichenberg makes a ton of sense and he is worth the extra pick next year to make sure the Dolphins got the player they wanted.”
McKinney: “Liam Eichenberg was a solid value pick in the second round as many boards had him slotted near the end of the first. Tackle Eichenberg was not the flashiest of prospects at his position but his ranking with PFF improved a significant amount each year that he played at the college level ending his career with an 89.9 overall grade in 2020. Over the previous two seasons, he did not surrender a single sack and most draft projections for him had him as a ‘plug-and-play’ starter in the NFL from day one. Eichenberg played the left side of the line for Notre Dame but projects as a solid fit as a very strong and solid right tackle that should be able to hold down a starting position with this team for years to come.”
Houtz: “If Tua Tagovailoa wants to have success, he needs to stay upright. The Dolphins are building a wall in front of Tua and an arsenal around him. Eichenberg could compete to start day one at right tackle or guard. Heck, he even suggested he could play center despite never actually playing the position.”
Smith: “Tua got a playmaker in round one, and now the Fins’ brass gets him a solid pass protector in Eichenberg. They needed to address the offensive line, and now they’ve done it with a 38-game starter at Notre Dame who excelled as a pass blocker. I wondered if they’d go interior offensive line with this pick or tackle, but I like they added a pass blocker who’s played right tackle, is comfortable there, and will be responsible for protecting Tua’s blind side. I’m happy with the pick.
Hier: “The Dolphins top brass is making a bit of a gamble in likely counting on four first- and second-year players to be starting pieces to the team’s offensive line, but if this group pans out, Tua Tagovailoa will have all day to throw from the pocket for many seasons to come. Solomon Kindley and Hunt both displayed tremendous upside last season; both dominated at times, and Hunt was simply stellar during the final few games of the season. Austin Jackson had a few rough patches, but he also flashed the athleticism and quickness to be a long-term solution at the tackle spot. Despite the price Miami paid to move up from 50 to 42, I’m sold on this pick because of the philosophy behind it and Eichenberg’s strong resume.”