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Bye week grades: Tight ends

TIGHT ENDS

Grade: B

Summary: No tight end in the country received as much attention entering the season as Tyler Eifert did. And, consequently, no tight end in the country has received as much attention on the field as Eifert through four games. He has just one catch in his last two games, and has just nine catches for 158 yards and a touchdown this season, a far cry from his 63-catch, 803-yard season from a year ago. This is not exactly his fault, as defenses have keyed in on him and the Irish haven't taken advantage yet with other options. But you can't underestimate his value to the passing game. Just look at the second half of the Purdue game, as Notre Dame netted just 42 yards over its first five drives without Eifert, who left with a mild concussion. (Tommy Rees came in for the sixth and final drive without Eifert to lead the Irish to victory.)

The backups: Ben Koyack and Troy Niklas haven't put up much numbers-wise yet, and Alex Welch tore an ACL in camp to end his season before it started. Niklas has the highest upside of the group and figures to be a big-time player later in his career, after working out all of the kinks of the switch from linebacker. Blocking from this group as a whole has room for improvement.

Previous report cards:

Quarterbacks

Defensive line

Offensive line

Linebackers

Running backs

Wide receivers