The Philadelphia Eagles selected tight-end Zach Ertz from Stanford with their second pick in the 2013 draft. This pick was a bold choice by new coach Chip Kelly, who seemingly had more alarming needs to address before he went out and got a new tight end. One such need was at the cornerback position, but with that being said, Ertz was still a very solid pick and arguably the best player left on the board when the Eagles chose him.
Ertz could have come out a year early with Andrew Luck and the better part of the Cardinals’ offensive line, but by staying an extra year, he was able to develop into a the number one offensive threat for Stanford. In his junior year he led the team with 69 receptions for 898 yards and six touchdowns.
Kelly had to face Ertz while he was coaching at Oregon and has called Ertz a matchup nightmare. He is a big and physical player who also possesses the soft hands and excellent body control to make difficult catches in traffic. His route running is respectable, but could use some fine tuning, especially when going against man coverage. Ertz is deceivingly quick for his size, but won’t be able to elude defenders in the NFL as easily as he did in his college days. He becomes a threat to defenders since he is very good at finding open gaps and is able to create plays after the catch, and he never shies away from additional contact at the end of a run.
During his time at Stanford he was able to bulk up and now stands at 6’5” and 249 pounds. But to make a larger impact as a blocker downfield in the NFL for the Eagles he will need to continue to become stronger, as well as work on his technique when blocking on the line. As a downfield blocker, Ertz is always looking for the next guy to block and shows the effort he needs to succeed in the NFL.
During his time at Stanford, Ertz lined up in virtually every position, but saw his most production when running from the slot, which is something he will be asked to do a lot of in the Eagles' new, fast paced, spread offense.
During his rookie campaign, he will provide a big target downfield and should contribute despite a lot of competition at the position. He won’t get a substantial amount of playing time at first, but should see action primarily on passing downs. He has been projected to be a player similar in both size and skill to Rob Grownkowski, and Kelly will look for Ertz to make a similar impact in the receiving game, especially in the red zone, where Grownkowski shines.
The Eagles are going into the season now with five tight ends, including last year’s starters Brent Celek and Clay Harbor, along with free agent addition James Casey. It is clear that Kelly will look to utilize the tight end position heavily in his offense. It also appears that Kelly is giving quarterback Michael Vick every chance to succeed, by providing new weapons on offense to compliment the already good receiving core and running game.