Raiders 2024 NFL Draft: Tommy Eichenberg Film Breakdown

Raiders 2024 NFL Draft: Tommy Eichenberg Film Breakdown

Flying touchdowns were a common theme throughout the 2024 NFL Draft for the Las Vegas Raiders, and fifth-round pick Tommy Eichenberg, a linebacker from Ohio State, was one of them. The former Buckeye was widely considered a top-100 fringe player, so placing him with the 149th overall selection is a great value.

One of the main reasons for this is that Eichenberg has a strong track record as a run defender. While last season was a bit of a down year with a 66.6 defensive grade from Pro Football Focus, he still ranked eighth among Big 10 linebackers with 26 defensive stops against the run. In 2022, he was even better with an elite 90.1 rating and 49 saves as the two led the conference.

On film, the Ohio State product shows good instincts and physical demeanor that should translate to the next level.

The Buckeyes have the Badgers on the ropes here, backed up in their own end while Wisconsin uses 13 personnel to get some breathing room. However, Eichenberg isn’t letting the offense get away with it.

Lined up as a weakside linebacker, he does a great job reading his keys seeing the guard he is lined up opposite shoot to the other side of the formation. Especially with the defensive line pinching toward the center and closing down interior spaces at the back, this allows Eichenberg to quickly circulate (or sprint) toward the side of the play.

His quick trigger and speed causes the rising right tackle at the second level to miss, putting the backer in an excellent position to make a tackle for loss or right at the line of scrimmage, keeping pressure on the offense.

While Eichenberg may not be the greatest athlete or fastest player on the field, his instincts give him impressive game speed and that’s how he makes this tackle.

Here we’ll get another example of the old Buckeye’s instincts, as Notre Dame has plenty of eye candy in this play. The Fighting Irish run a reverse read option with a reaction sweep action leading into the backfield while the offensive line blocks a counter run by the quarterback.

This puts a lot of stress on the linebacker, especially Eichenberg, since the offense is essentially running two plays here; the lead jet sweep and the quarterback counter. Additionally, the quarterback reads Eichenberg on this rep and tries to prove him wrong.

However, he remains patient, follows the play and reads the action in the backfield. Once he sees the handoff to the jet, the backer initiates a downfield and has the speed to make the tackle right at the line of scrimmage as the ball carrier cuts upfield.

This is a good example of Eichenberg being a football player rather than a robot.

Technically, he is responsible for the weak side B gap in this weak run inside the zone. However, the inside linebacker stepped up the line of scrimmage into the strongside A-gap and was hit by the right guard, creating a massive lane for the running back.

Eichenberg sees the hole growing and takes a risk by leaving himself responsible for filling it. He does a good job of using his hands to avoid and get out of the center block – admittedly, the center helps him by losing his balance – and meets the ball carrier in space.

The guard then tries to deceive Eichenberg by pivoting towards the B space, but Eichenberg makes a superb tackle which probably saved what would have been a big play on the ground. Again, it’s not technically his responsibility, but he adapts on the fly and helps cover up his teammate’s mistakes.

To some extent, the last clip showed this as well. What stands out about the Ohio State product’s play is that he is good at taking blocks with his hands and getting extension. This has become rare as linebackers in college football have gotten smaller in recent years with an emphasis on coverage skills.

On this depiction, Penn State runs outside the zone right to Eichenberg as a SAM linebacker where the right guard climbs toward him at the second level. The sponsor responds by going down the slope and placing his hands/punches on the guard’s chest.

Notice how his hands end up inside the hands of the offensive lineman as he essentially presses on the lineman to create some separation. The reach Eichenberg gets allows him to make a nice tackle about a yard or two from the line of scrimmage.

This next rep isn’t as clear but serves as an example of how Eichenberg taking blocks with his hands helps him make plays.

Minnesota runs a weakside counter where the linebacker moves laterally over the top of the formation. He takes the right tackle’s block and puts his right hand on the tackle’s chest but misses with his left. This prevents Eichenberg from getting an extension on the block, but the combination of him landing with one hand and continuing to work lateral prevents the lineman from getting a clean block.

Finally, Eichenberg manages to escape just enough to get involved in the tackle while being held on to him by an offensive lineman.

To conclude, we will move on to media coverage which is not the strong point of our subject. However, he is not completely inept in this area and can make plays with his combination of instincts, speed and open field tackling.

Georgia runs a halfback screen while Ohio State drops into Cover 3, making Eichenberg a hook-and-loop defender with his eyes on the quarterback. Once he sees the quarterback throw the ball on the screen, he crashes downhill and has enough speed to beat the offensive lineman on the spot.

He’s thrown off balance a bit by the lineman’s block, but Eichenberg stays in control enough to wrap the running back’s legs and force the Bulldogs into a third-and-long situation.