Former Ohio State Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg Sees “Perfect Fit” With Las Vegas Raiders, GM Tom Telesco Says Eichenberg is “All Ball, All the Time”

By Andy Anders on May 1, 2024 at 10:10 am
Tommy Eichenberg

There’s something symmetrical about the Silver and Black and Tommy Eichenberg’s playstyle.

No question has ever been raised about the former Ohio State linebacker’s toughness. This is someone who played through a dislocated elbow at the end of the Buckeyes’ season, who in 2022 became the first OSU defender in eight years to log at least 120 tackles in a season.

The Las Vegas Raiders brand is synonymous with physicality, dating back to the days of Pro Football Hall of Famers like Jim Otto, Ted Hendricks and Mike Haynes. That’s why Eichenberg’s answer was quick when asked if he could have picked a better fit to be drafted into.

“No, I could not have,” Eichenberg said. “I think it’s a perfect fit. I’m excited to get to work and try to help the team in any way possible.”

The feeling is mutual from the head honchos in Sin City, but as much of anything, it’s Eichenberg’s game knowledge and undying love for football that made him an attractive option in the fifth round of the 2024 NFL draft on Saturday.

“He’s big, he’s really smart in-play, like aware,” Raiders general manager Tom Telesco said. “Hustle, motor, likes to hit, but he’s all ball all the time. He runs very well straight line for a bigger linebacker and he’s been well-coached. Through high school, St. Ignatius is a powerhouse in Cleveland, Ohio, well-coached through high school, played against top high school players in his area when he was there and then obviously at Ohio State.”

It’s not just Las Vegas’ past that is indicative of a hard-hitting identity, it’s the present and future.

Head coach Antonio Pierce is a former Pro Bowl linebacker himself, named the team’s full-time frontman this offseason after going 5-4 in an interim capacity last season.

“I’m really excited to learn from him and how he sees the game as a former linebacker, as a great player,” Eichenberg said. “How he sees the game and just how he coaches us too. I can’t wait.”

“He’s big, he’s really smart in-play, like aware. Hustle, motor, likes to hit, but he’s all ball all the time.”– Raiders GM Tom Telesco on Tommy Eichenberg

That hard-nosed, defensive-minded coach is supported by star defensive end Maxx Crosby and star linebacker Robert Spillane, two players with some of the meanest reputations in the NFL. Crosby had 14.5 sacks in 2023 while Spillane had 148 total tackles.

“I think they’re really, really tough dudes that love the game of football and play really, really hard,” Eichenberg said. “That’s something that I try to pride myself on too and it’s something I hope to add to this team.”

Also on the Raiders is former Ohio State offensive lineman Thayer Munford, now a two-year starter at right tackle. Munford and Eichenberg were at Ohio State together from 2019 through 2021.

Eichenberg and Munford aren’t as thick as thieves, but the second-level defender was able to come to the road-grader for advice on his move into the Raiders’ organization.

“I talked to him briefly, we overlapped three years,” Eichenberg said. “But he loves it and I can’t wait to join him.”

The first step for Eichenberg, as with most Day 3 draft picks, will be to make his team’s 53-man roster this fall.

Production on the kickoff and punt units could pave the way to a spot. The Raiders aren’t ultra-deep at linebacker either, with only two who registered more than 27 tackles in 2023.

“We think he has big special teams value as well,” Telesco said. “For all these guys that are young players, you’ve gotta come in and make a mark on special teams with (special teams coordinator) Tom McMahon to get a jersey on Sunday. Then keep working at your craft at whatever that position is to try and earn a starting job.”

Regardless, Eichenberg’s dedication to and adoration for football leave little doubt he’ll give every effort possible to live out his NFL dreams.

“That was something I told a lot of teams, my love for the game is unmatched,” Eichenberg said. “There’s nothing else I’d rather do in my life. It’s hard to turn off but I love the game. I’m always around it, always just trying to learn. I can’t even name all the things I’ve done back in college that revolved around football because I love the game so much. I love the dudes, I love the coaches, just everything that comes with it.”

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