NEW YORK -– Former University of Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert was selected with the 21st overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and was the first Fighting Irish player taken in this year's draft. He became the 64th former Notre Dame player to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Eifert is the first tight end selected in the first round of the NFL draft since Jermaine Gresham of Oklahoma in 2011 (ironically also 21st overall by the Cincinnati Bengals). Eifert is the first Notre Dame tight end to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since Irv Smith in 1993 (20th overall by the New Orleans Saints).
In addition Eifert and Smith, three other Irish tight ends have been chosen in the first round, including Derek Brown (14th overall by the New York Giants in 1992), Tony Hunter (12th overall by the Buffalo Bills in 1983) and Ken MacAfee (seventh overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 1978).
"This is such an exciting time for Tyler and his family," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. "He was faced with a difficult decision following his junior season whether or not to return to school. Tyler returned for his senior season and that decision was rewarded today. He proved to be the best tight end in college football, solidified himself as a first-round draft pick and, most importantly, earned his degree from the University of Notre Dame."
Eifert finished his career as the most prolific tight end in Notre Dame history. The 2012 John Mackey Award winner, Eifert holds the school record for career receptions (140) and career receiving yards (1,840) by an Irish tight end. He bested Ken MacAfee's school records in both career categories that had stood since 1977. Eifert also holds single-season school records for receptions (63) and receiving yards (803) by a Notre Dame tight end.
In 2012, Eifert started all 13 games and either tied or led the Irish in receptions (50) and receiving yards (685). He also tied for the team high with four touchdown catches. Thirty-six of Eifert's 50 catches resulted in a touchdown or first down. He led Notre Dame with 12 receptions of at least 20 yards.