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Kiper says Eifert, Te'o are 1st-round picks

Mel Kiper Jr., a NFL draft analyst for ESPN, said during a teleconference Wednesday that Notre Dame's 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS championship game didn't hurt the stock of the Irish's top two prospects for the April draft.

Kiper said linebacker Manti Te'o, who had 10 tackles in the loss to the Crimson Tide, only slid a little in his mind, and that the 6-foot-2, 255-pounder is still a high- to mid-round selection.

"I dropped him down to eight to Buffalo," Kiper said. "I could have dropped him down to 13 to Tampa or 17 to Pittsburgh, this could allow for maybe Baltimore to jump up and get him. Obviously, they need an heir apparent to Ray Lewis. Manti Te'o would be a heck of guy. If Ray Lewis' career comes to an end, you bring in Manti Te'o. I could see Baltimore being aggressive and try to move up into the middle of the first, if Te'o slides into that 12, 13, 14 area, maybe they even get ahead of Pittsburgh at 17. It is going to be interesting how these teams in the AFC North handle Manti Te'o if he drops a little bit."

Eifert, a 6-6, 251-pounder, had six receptions for 61 yards against Alabama, and in Kiper's mind, the Bishop Dwenger graduate's performance in the title game didn't change his draft prospects.

"Tyler Eifert, obviously, is a guy that has the chance to be an early to mid first-round pick," Kiper said. "I'm thinking more mid now, we will have to see in the workouts. I think around 20 you could see him come off the board to Chicago, maybe earlier, we will have to wait and see.

"I thought about Pittsburgh with Heath Miller's injury, maybe Pittsburgh at 17 could look at a tight end. Eifert's going to go in the first round. I don't think there is any question about that."

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.