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Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert looks like the NFL draft’s top tight end

Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, Tyler Eifert

Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert (80) catches a pass in front of Alabama’s Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix (6) during the second half of the BCS National Championship college football game Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)


Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert appears to be solidifying his status as the top tight end in the NFL draft.

Taking the field Saturday at the Scouting Combine, Eifert ran a 4.60-second 40-yard dash, a very good time that makes him one of the fastest players at his position. Eifert won the Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end last year, and now he’s showing that he has the measurables to go along with the skills he has already displayed on the field.

Zach Ertz of Stanford, Eifert’s biggest rival to be the first tight end off the board, wasn’t quite as fast as Eifert. But he did run a respectable time, at 4.65 seconds.

The fastest 40 time of the tight end group was turned in by Chris Gragg of Arkansas, who was clocked in 4.44 seconds. Gragg wasn’t considered one of the draft’s elite tight ends before this week, but he’s had an impressive body of work in Indianapolis. Gragg said this week that his old Arkansas quarterback and current Patriots backup Ryan Mallett told him he compares favorably to Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Mallett has told me that we’re kind of the same size but that he thinks I’m a little faster,” Gragg said. “Hopefully I can go out and show that this week.”

If Gragg turned in the most impressive 40, the most disappointing 40 may have been turned in by Gavin Escobar of San Diego State, who couldn’t break 4.8 seconds in either of his two attempts. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, who had Escobar ranked as his No. 3 tight end heading into the Combine, said Escobar’s 40 time could force scouts to take a second look at his tape and consider whether he was overrated because he was making plays against slower defensive backs in the Mountain West Conference.

But Eifert appears to be rated right where he should be: At the top of the tight end class.