How Will Zach Ertz Impact The Tight End Position?BREAKING NEWS, News, NFLDraft Saturday, April 27th, 2013
It is probably Chip Kelly’s most colorful quote early in his coaching career with the Eagles. It is also his method for draft picks. Kelly’s first two draft picks were geared toward the trenches. Lane Johnson, the 6-foot-6, 300-pound tackle from Oklahoma and Zach Ertz, the 6-foot-5, 249 pound tight end from Stanford.
Johnson and Ertz have both showed that they have attitude on the football field, something that has been lacking with recent Philadelphia Eagles. I won’t mention any names but they rhyme with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Fittingly, neither of those players are on the team anymore and Chip Kelly addressed attitude in free agency as well as in his first three picks in the draft.
Ertz is the “sexiest” pick yet. He is the only skill position player the Eagles have drafted and we are quickly learning how much Chip Kelly loves his tight ends. The Eagles currently have four tight ends on the roster with free agent pickup James Casey and veterans Brent Celek and Clay Harbor.
Ertz is the immediate favorite of the four tight ends. As a second round pick, he is the highest drafted tight end for the Eagles since Keith Byars, a player who still holds Eagles records despite leaving the team 21 years ago. As the 35th overall pick, “Ertz is a better player than Coby Fleener,” who was the 34th overall pick a year ago to the Indianapolis Colts, says Mike Mayock.
Seeing that speed is an attribute that Kelly covets, it is something to look at for the current tight ends on the roster. Surely there are other factors – hands, route running, size – but speed and downfield ability may be the two most prominent. Ertz, Casey, and Harbor all have sub-4.7 40-yard times, and it shows on field. Celek, however, ran a 4.75 hand time at his pro day in 2007.
Celek was the third leading receiver on the team in 2012 but only produced a single touchdown. He could also possibly have two interceptions credited to him off of tipped balls that he should have caught. Ertz’s last season at Stanford yielded six touchdowns and nearly 900 yards on 69 catches. Ertz reached the endzone 15 times in his three years at Stanford, an impressive number considering he was only the team’s full-time starter his junior season.
There is no way of telling how Kelly feels about the tight ends he inherited in coming to Philly. We do know that he likes both Ertz and Casey, though, considering he brought both players into the organization. Celek doesn’t fit the typical mold that Kelly has favored in the past. Harbor hasn’t produced a ton but his 4.62 40-yard dash time might get him some extra looks in camp, plus he is a cheaper player than Celek is. Kelly could also keep all four of the players on the roster; he favors two tight end sets and will need depth.
The Eagles have six more picks today and will likely add depth in the defensive backfield, wide receiver, and quarterback positions. Kelly knows his college players, but he doesn’t know how they transfer to the NFL. That is where Pat Shurmur and Billy Davis come into play. Positions of need have definitely been addressed but there are still areas where the Eagles could use some help. Let’s hope that today’s picks match up with those needs.
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