2013 NFL draft: Could Tyler Eifert be the surprise pick?

Jonathan Daniel

His last name may not be 'Durden', but this player would turn the Panthers into Tight Club.

In just over nine hours the Carolina Panthers' selection will be in. As it stands the most common name to hear is Star Lotulelei, but there are late-breaking rumors that Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert could be a possibility at the 14th pick -- especially if the top defensive tackles are gone.

Your first reaction is probably a lot like mine was: a blended-together mess or disgust, abhorrence and severe nausea. Upon hearing the concept I believed it was one of the few ways the Panthers could screw up the first round, which is difficult to do with the picks and players on the board. Taking a couple of hours to calm down, back away from the ledge, and listen to smarter judges of talent than I am, the idea (I dare say) isn't quite so scary.

Cam Newton needs weapons. We've heard the line, and almost all fans agree that it's true. Not specifically receivers, but weapons. Up to this point the focus has been on looking at the top WR talent, and having ad nauseum arguments about who's best. All the while the draft's top tight end has been ignored, and is one of the enigmas of this draft.

Ignore the lack of a pre-draft visit when it comes to Eifert, because he didn't go anywhere. As such he's a dark horse in this entire class. Some believe he'll be a top-ten pick, others in the 20's -- truth is, there's just no way to know. Tavon Austin will be gone, and not a good fit for the offense anyway. If you're the Carolina Panthers are your choice is between two receivers with non-elite speed, and a tight end who's almost as fast, do you take the WR or look to the guy who's 6-6, and could have the best hands in the draft?

If you think about Tyler Eifert purely as a Greg Olsen clone, the idea seems stupid. View his as being slightly more athletic, with an ability to play on the outside -- all of a sudden you have a red zone target for Cam Newton, and a creative offensive coordinator can cause havoc with mismatches. It's the move that would have fans up in arms saying "we don't need one!", but it's also the move that brought Luke Kuechly to Carolina. An outside shot, but a very intriguing one.

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