Over the past few months, we’ve been taking an in-depth look at each of the Jets’ rookies. We continue today with linebacker Camilo Eifler.
The 23-year old Eifler is listed at 6’1” and 228 pounds and was a two year starter with Illinois, starting 17 games with them and racking up 90 tackles. He had started off his college career at Washington.
Eifler was a four star recruit who was also a standout in track and field in high school. He eventually opted to attend Washington but redshirted his first season.
In 2017, he made his debut with the Huskies, playing in all 13 games. However, he only played 17 defensive snaps and ended the season with just six tackles.
Frustrated at his lack of playing time, Eifler opted to enter the transfer portal and eventually decided to transfer to Illinois. He had to sit out the 2018 season due to the NCAA’s transfer rules, but made his mark in 2019 as he started 12 of 13 games and racked up 63 tackles and two sacks. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown.
In 2020, he missed three games due to injury but started five and recorded 27 tackles and a sack. Despite a solid pro day workout, he went unselected in the 2021 draft and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jets.
Now let’s take a look at what Eifler brings to the table, divided into categories.
Eifler has decent size and length and posted excellent numbers for speed and explosiveness at his pro day workout. He ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash and posted a vertical of 37 inches and broad jump of 126 inches. For context, those numbers would’ve placed him 10th, 7th and 5th among all linebackers at the 2020 scouting combine.
His agility numbers were fine, but nothing special, and he only posted 14 bench press reps, though.
The Jets brought in three other rookie linebackers this offseason, but Eifler is the first who actually played as a linebacker in college as opposed to being a converted safety.
He moved around plenty, sometimes lining up on the edge, in the slot, out wide or deeper depending on the situation. He even put his hand in the dirt a few times.
In high school, Eifler played both on both sides of the ball as an outside linebacker and a running back.
Eifler is at his best when the action is in front of him and he can attack the ball carrier. There are some good examples of him making decisive reads to blow up a play.
In terms of play recognition, there were some examples of plays where he was half a beat slow to react or took false steps as he was making his read.
At Illinois, he had recognized there was a need to improve his recognition of offensive schemes and put in extra work in terms of film study. He was also an on-field communicator, often yelling at his teammates to ensure everyone was in position. Even so, there were occasional breakdowns.
Eifler could be a player who benefits from getting to play alongside some more experienced players as he learns the system.
Eifler has been a productive defender against the run, but graded out poorly in 2020. The main reason for this is that he often gets blocked out of plays, either because he tries to shoot a gap and is easily sealed off or struggles to get off a block in space.
When he is kept clean, he can be effective in space and has the quickness to shoot a gap, make a play in the hole, pursue across the field or come off the edge.
Eifler is better off at anticipating and using his quickness to avoid blockers rather than taking on a block and shedding it to make the play.
Most of Eifler’s best coverage work involves him dropping off and reacting to short passes to try and limit the damage. However, in 2020, he gave up 14 catches on 15 targets including a 33-yard play that saw him blocked to the ground on a screen pass.
In man to man coverage, he can be exploited if he ends up in a mismatch. That’s what happens here as he was easily exposed by Rashod Bateman for a big play.
Eifler had just two passes defensed in his college career and also had an interception go right through his hands. He helped break up this pass with a good hit though.
Tackling efficiency was one of Eifler’s main weaknesses in college. Although he was productive, he had 26 missed tackles in just 19 games at Illinois. His main problem was that he will often go for the big hit and fail to wrap up but there were also times where he took a bad angle or overpursued.
Despite often going for the big hit, he did not have a single forced fumble in his college career.
Eifler didn’t blitz very often but had modest success in terms of creating pressure when he did. He had three sacks in his two seasons with Illinois.
As noted, Eifler likes to go for the big hit and, as a result he accumulated some nice highlights with the Fighting Illini.
While he perhaps needs to work at his strength and technique to be able to fight off blocks more effectively, he shows good physicality on this play to take out the lead blocker.
He’s only been called for three defensive penalties in his career, but does need to be careful to keep things legal when going for big hits.
Eifler’s athletic ability, hustle and big hitting are good ingredients for a potential special teams contributor and he was pretty good in that role at Washington with six special teams tackles in his first season.
He also had a role in punt protection, rushing punts and blocking on the return units at Washington. He even lined up as a punt gunner a few times. He had one special teams penalty, for an illegal block on a kickoff.
When he transferred, Eifler had less of a role because he was more important to the defense, but still rushed punts and field goals.
Eifler was obviously frustrated with how things went at Washington. As a big-name recruit, he expected to play immediately but was redshirted and then spent his second season as a reserve. Despite this disappointment he had a good attitude towards his role and played hard on special teams, determined to make his mark there.
Having opted to transfer, Eifler now has a bit of a chip on his shoulder and has worked hard. He was keen to be a leader with his new team and showed maturity by expressing concerns over Covid pandemic protocols and embracing a role as a spokesman for his teammates.
On the field, Eifler is extremely demonstrative and animated. He talks a lot of trash and gets fired up when he makes a play or shows frustration when he makes a mistake.
While his on-field discipline was generally good, he was ejected twice during his college career. Both were somewhat controversial as he was adjudged to have punched an opponent after the whistle in an incident which could perhaps be better described as a “love tap” and then the targeting call on this hit was not reversed even though he led with his shoulder.
As noted, if you’re going to be a big hitter, you have to be accurate because even if you don’t lead with the helmet, forcible contact to the head and neck area will still see you penalized at the pro level.
While Eifler was sitting out due to transfer portal regulations in 2018, he took the opportunity to get shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. During that time, he couldn’t work out properly and had to bulk back up after he went down to 210 pounds.
A knee injury affected him during his time at Illinois but it wasn’t a particularly serious one. He missed three games in 2020 following an injury suffered in practice. He also got knocked out of a game in 2019.
Eifler played for Lovie Smith at Illinois so he’s had experience in a pro-style system. He played the Will position there and that’s probably his natural position in the Jets’ system as well because he does play better in space. However, he’s the biggest of the four rookies so perhaps the Jets will use him in a different role.
His fellow linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips was in his final year at Illinois in 2018, so Eifler effectively replaced him. While they never played together, Eifler was there that year, so they’d have got to know one another.
One other current Jets rookie was a former teammate of Eifler’s and that’s Alijah Vera-Tucker, who went to the same high school as him.
The fact that Eifler isn’t changing position gives him an immediate head start over the other three rookies as they duke it out for playing time this summer.
He’s obviously a long-shot to see any meaningful playing time as CJ Mosley and Jarrad Davis will probably handle the bulk of the reps. However, the Jets may see traits in Eifler that could see him getting a long look as a potential special teams contributor in the short term.
If he can work on speeding up his play recognition and his strength and technique to cope better with opposing blockers, perhaps Eifler can develop into a defensive contributor as well.