Tyler Eifert continued Notre Dame's march of tight ends to the NFL on Thursday night.
The former Bishop Dwenger standout was selected with the No. 21 pick in the opening round of the NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Eifert is the seventh Irish tight end to be drafted in the last 13 years, and the first of those tight ends to be taken in the first round. He is also the first tight end to be selected in the first round since 2010 when Cincinnati selected Jermaine Gresham with the No. 21 overall pick.
Jabari Holloway started Notre Dame's recent tight end parade to the pros when he was taken in the fourth round of the 2001 draft by New England. John Owens was selected in the fifth round by Detroit the following year, and Jerome Collins was taken in the fifth round by St. Louis in 2005.
Notre Dame tight ends moved up the draft board after that with Anthony Fasano being taken in the second round by Dallas in 2006, John Carlson going to Seattle in the second round in 2008 and Rudolph landing in Minnesota via a second-round pick in the 2011 draft.
Eifert is the fifth Notre Dame tight end to be selected in the first round since 1978.
He joined Ken MacAfee, who was taken with the No. 7 overall selection by San Francisco in 1978; Tony Hunter, who was taken with the No. 12 selection by Buffalo in 1983; Derek Brown, who was taken with the No. 14 overall selection by the New York Giants in 1992; and Irv Smith, who was taken with the No. 20 selection by New Orleans in 1993, as a first-round selection.
Eifert had a team-high 685 receiving yards and matched receiver TJ Jones as the Irish's receptions leader with 50 catches last season. He also had four touchdowns and earned the Mackey Award, as the nation's top college tight end.
The 6-foot-6, 251-pounder left Notre Dame as the school's all-time leader in receptions (140) and receiving yards (1,840) by a tight end.
Eifert's selection in marked the second year in a row the Irish had a player taken in the first round. Receiver Michael Floyd, No. 13 to Arizona, and safety Harrison Smith, No. 29 to Minnesota, were taken in the first round last year.
If linebacker Manti Te'o is selected in the first round tonight, it will be the first time Notre Dame had two or more first-round selections in back-to-back drafts since the 1993 and 1994 drafts.
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