It wasn’t a quarterback, but
the Eagles continued to focus on offense in the second round of the NFL Draft on
Friday. Zach Ertz joins Brent Celek and James Casey in a suddenly crowded field
of tight ends for Philadelphia.
Chip Kelly’s offense is
expected to feature the tight end heavily, so despite Celek’s presence on the
roster plus the addition of Casey through free agency, adding another with the 35th overall selection was far from surprising. The belief is the Eagles will carry up to four, possibly
even five tight ends this season.
The Stanford product was
easily one of the top prospects at the position, as he was just the second tight
end to come off the board. He has good size (6-5, 249 lbs.) and strength, and
is said to be an excellent route runner. He'll also be useful in an H-back role.
Here’s the scouting report from NFL.com:
with good route quickness to create some separation and sneaky speed to get
behind the defense. Sturdy, well-built frame, adding 30 pounds of bulk and
muscle since he arrived in Palo Alto. Tough with the ball in his hands and isnt afraid to deliver hits, lowering his pads and finishing
runs. Not afraid to get physical as a blocker and gives good effort in this
area, always looking for someone to block downfield. Tracks the ball well and
does a nice job adjusting his frame to make the tough catch, extending and
plucking. Looks like he has glue on his hands with some of the catches he is
able to make. Does a nice job selling his patterns, getting good depth in his
routes and immediately looking for the ball out of his breaks. Nice job
deceiving defenders and finding soft spots in coverage to make something happen
after the catch, averaging over 13 yards per catch in 2012. Has experience all
over the offense for Stanford, lining up in-line, slot and out wide, but looked
most comfortable in the slot. In 2012 Ertz doubled Coby Fleeners production from the year before, earning All-American honors as a
Mackey Award finalist. Hard worker on and off the field and plans to graduate
of his sophomore year due to injury. Must prove his straight-line speed to
scouts. Will not elude NFL defensive backs after the catch with pure quickness.
Inconsistent in-line blocker, can get after his man but also loses the leverage
battle and gets pushed back too easily. Misses second-level blocks when lunging
at targets instead of getting position. Nice job adding bulk to his frame, but
needs to continue to develop his strength to sustain blocks at the line of
scrimmage. Will round off some routes at times and needs to better control
himself in/out of his breaks. Needs to do a better job coming down with
contested throws and will drop some easy ones seems to
have at least one drop each game.
Ertz posted a whopping 69
receptions for 898 yards and six touchdowns last year as a redshirt junior, including 11
for 106 and a score in a 17-14 win over Chip’s Ducks. It was by far his most
productive season, although he was always a threat inside the red zone, hauling in an additional nine touchdowns the previous two years despite a much smaller role.
Looking at this selection from
another perspective, Ertz and Lane Johnson aren’t just offensive players. They
are BIG, powerful offensive players. The Eagles aren’t going to just tucker
opponents out with a breakneck pace, or try to finesse their way down the
field. They want to wear defenses
down physically as well.
Geoff Mosher wrote more about the Eagles' plan at tight end earlier this week:
When the Eagles signed versatile fullback/tight end James Casey in
March, coach Chip Kelly spoke about the increase of two tight-end
formations, about the creation of a lethal tight end tag team similar to
New England’s Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
veteran tight end Brent Celek, right now, are Kelly’s vision of the
Gronkowski-Hernandez pairing. Backups Clay Harbor and Emil Igwenagu are
OK but haven’t proven themselves to be dynamic.
Hoping to emulate
the Patriots, who have stockpiled at the position, the Eagles have
closely examined this year’s college crop of tight ends, and several
league officials familiar with Kelly’s background and offense expect the
Eagles to add depth there before the end of the draft.
The downside is the Eagles
haven’t addressed defense yet in this draft even though the unit was tied for
third in points allowed last season. However, an inconsistent and erratic
offense has compounded the issues on the other side of the ball for the last
Besides, it makes sense to build
a team that suits the head coach. Whatever Chip Kelly’s vision is for this
offense, he needs certain types of players to make it work. Ertz, like Johnson
before him, fits the mold.