Tyler Eifert to the Panthers?


Fantasy footballing folk can now embrace their inner crazy. There’s a chance — a chance, I tell you — that Tyler Eifert could end up in Carolina.

In the before time when every prospect didn’t have every team attached to his name, it was thought that Eifert — the best tight end in this draft, and the only likely first-round pick at his position — could fall to the very back of the round. That’s where he’d be the ideal fit for Atlanta, a team needing to find Tony Gonzalez’s successor as he enters what should be his final season.

But then Pro Days and tape assessment moved along, and we all came to about the same conclusion: Eifert is pretty good at football. Standing at 6’6″ and weighing 250 pounds, his game fits the description of the modern-day dynamo tight end. He’s a big man who can play small if you want him to by lining up in the slot and utilizing his speed to stretch the middle of the field, but he can also handle himself well in traffic.

Really, he’s a slot receiver who happens to be hopelessly trapped in a tight end’s body, which also gives him terrific leaping ability, as our own Alen Dumonjic chronicled in his tape study. All those things have combined to reportedly draw the interest of a somewhat unlikely destination.

Tell us more, Joseph Person from the Charlotte Observer:

While most of the pre-draft speculation has focused on the Panthers taking a defensive tackle with the 14th pick, they are also giving strong consideration to Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, the Observer has learned.

The thinking is Carolina could pair Eifert with Greg Olsen in the two-tight end sets that were so effective for the Panthers in 2011 with Olsen and Jeremy Shockey.

I think I just peed a little.

Person correctly observes that Olsen and Shockey combined to do great things with Cam Newton in 2011. That’s when Newton was named the offensive rookie of the year while rushing for 706 yards, and passing for 4,051. Olsen and Shockey were on the receiving end for 23.5 percent of that yardage, totaling a combined 995 yards. This past season when Olsen was on his own as the primary tight end target, he had a fine season, but fell short of that with 843 yards.

Combining the large-bodied athleticism of both Eifert and Olsen will make for a fine Patriots imitation, and so much fantasy football awesome on all fronts. Olsen and Eifert would feed off each other and provide opportunities for offensive creativity, while Newton’s passing numbers that lagged at times last year partly due to a lack of support (he had only two truly reliable targets between Olsen and Steve Smith) will rise swiftly.

And no worries, the dual tight end system doesn’t kill the fantasy production of both players. Sure, one will always naturally lead (in this case, Olsen), but please recall that during the last season both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were healthy in New England, Hernandez still had 910 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, even though Gronk dominated with 1,327 yards and 17 scores. Both were fine fantasy plays on any and every week.