College Football: Ohio State Tommy Eichenberg (35) in action, waits for the play vs Michigan at Ohio Stadium. 
Columbus, OH 11/26/2022
CREDIT: David E. Klutho (Photo by David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) 
(Set Number: X164248 TK1)
College Football: Ohio State Tommy Eichenberg (35) in action, waits for the play vs Michigan at Ohio Stadium. Columbus, OH 11/26/2022 CREDIT: David E. Klutho (Photo by David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X164248 TK1)

Tommy Gun: Tommy Eichenberg, LB, Ohio State

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First Round Mock’s William Yanish puts a big grade on Ohio State linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, a prospect who is not getting talked about much.

COLUMBUS, OH – NOVEMBER 26: Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Tommy Eichenberg (35) celebrates during the third quarter of the college football game between the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes on November 26, 2022, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Inside linebackers (ILB) are a very undervalued position when it comes to defense. With offenses that concentrate on mismatches, they can be some of the most important and productive defenders on the field.

Whether it’s stopping the run, supplying coverage, or chasing quarterbacks (QB), they can do it all.

The problem is finding the ones that can do it all.

Before the 2012 NFL Draft, an ILB was one of the first players that I ever put time into getting to know.

It pretty much kicked off teaching myself how to scout a prospect.

By the time the draft rolled around that year, I was sure he was one of the best, if not the best, defensive players in the entire draft. I had him going No. 9 to the Carolina Panthers. His name was Luke Kuechly.

Ever since then, I have not seen an ILB that has excited me as much as that guy.

Until now.

Eichenberg

This Ohio State inside linebacker originally committed to Boston College, Kuechly’s own alma mater. Eichenberg checks in at 6-foot-2, 239-pounds and he is a homegrown talent from Cleveland, Ohio.

He gets better each and every game and it just so happens his best games are against the highest level of competition.

Eichenberg comes from a family of athletes and brother Liam plays center for the Miami Dolphins. NFL teams value bloodlines who play or have played in the league when it comes to doing background work.

The Yanish Report

Long, solid, rangy athletic build. Three down LB. Plays FAST. Fills holes with great intensity. Does not waste movements. Breaks into the backfield at will. Snatch and drag tackler. Chases the ball carrier providing uber pressure. Great tackling technique. Sideline to sideline defender. Always around the ball. Generational instincts. Rarely takes a step in the wrong direction. Pursuit that just doesn’t quit. Gets slippery, fluid mechanics while absorbing blocks. Dictates where blockers try to take him and uses it against them. Matches up great versus tight ends (TE). Football IQ is off the map. Team captain. Tough, tough, tough. Gunslinger of the defense. Competitive. Cerebral.

For the win

What needs to happen from here is Eichenberg needs to show out the rest of the way. This up-and-coming defender has a real opportunity to make a name for himself as Ohio State can make some noise as one of the best teams in the nation.

He also played almost the entire 2022 season with two broken hands.

Fox Sports analyst Gus Johnson, who calls many Ohio State games, affectionately started calling Eichenberg “Tommy Two Thumbs”, because his thumbs were the only part of his hands that did not have casts on them. However, he still led the Buckeyes in tackles (120).

77 of those were solo.

He would have to be restrained to keep him from being in there. Eichenberg is a field general in a defensive capacity as he puts up double-digit tackle games like it’s nothing.

The talent and physicality are there and he can play any LB position in a defensive alignment.

His greatest challenge will be getting noticed. This isn’t the 1980s anymore, where middle linebackers were esteemed in a classic ‘three-yards and a cloud of dust,’ NFL brand of football. However, despite inside linebackers often being an afterthought, the Lions did select inside linebacker Jack Campbell out of Iowa in the first-round last this last draft, so it is possible.

Let it be known (and to add context) I put a third-round grade on Campbell predraft (see article below), and with 48 tackles (29 solo) and one sack in ten games as an NFL rookie, I can’t say I blame myself either.

My BIG three questions

1. What will it take to get the hype to match his skill set?

2. Can he separate himself from the other inside linebackers in the draft?

3. Can he hone his coverage skills before the draft?

My 2024 NFL Draft Value: First-Round

2022 Game Film Evidence (No.35)

Notre Dame

Wisconsin

Penn State

2023 (No. 35)

Notre Dame

Maryland

Penn State

William Yanish III is a lifelong football fan. He’s from the little town of Crawford, Colorado. Along the way, he’s lived in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and Brookings, Oregon. Quarterback Joe Montana was his idol growing up. A little bit of CTE from life’s adventures killed his dreams as a football player. Now, he is an aspiring writer and Draft Analyst at FirstRoundMock.com. He’s a fanatic with a dream, which is coming true.

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