How Will Zach Ertz Impact The Tight End Position?

ettz2“Big people beat up little people.”

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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16 thoughts on “How Will Zach Ertz Impact The Tight End Position?

  1. It’s really the redefinition of offensive positions at work here. Hardly anyone uses a traditional fullback anymore. Now we’re calling the “F” back a tight end instead of a fullback, since he’s no longer a lead blocker. At the same time, the traditional “X” position is still a tight end. But might even at times be more like a “Y” receiver. So maybe if you want to go big in the redzone you play Ertz at the “Y” rather than Maclin, while Celek plays the “X”. And possibly one of the bigger receivers, perhaps Benn, at the “Z”, rather than Desean. Lots of tall, physical targets for a defense to match up with, in tight areas where breakaway speed is not as much of an advantage.

    1. Excellent loint and has been a big reason why the Sagles Offense gas struggled in the Red-Zone the last few Seasons, too many small, smurf targets who are not big or physical enough once inside the 20-25 yard line..
      I have been clamoring for years about this very issue which is finally being addressed with Casey, Ertz, Benn and the 6-8 kid from Boston College they signed recently.. Let the smurfs (D-Jax Maclin, Danarius Johnson) work between the 20’s and then bring in the bigger, more physical WR’s/TE’s once inside the 25 Yard line who can also help run block better than the smurfs when running the ball too..

      1. I agree PMan, and I will add that their weak short yardage running game played a big role in the red zone ills. 1st and goal……with Andy at the helm what defense was scared?

    1. I’ve stated for 2 Years that Celek was an Average TE and wouldn’t start for half the Teams in the NFL.. He’s an overachiever who maxed out a couple of years ago.. Tough, good locker room guy, but Defense’s don’t have to alter their plans for him.. LB and SS can still cover Celek one on one

      1. Pman… You have said that and I agree to a point. Part of the problem has been that they have kept him in to block. I for 1 am glad to see them push him with this pick… Also…. Having the new Rt will also help because they can both get out there to catch. This is a win for the o.

        1. Stevo I also factored in him staying in to block because of that putrid oline.
          I still feel he’s avg. Nothing against him. I’ll even go as far to say chip may make him look a little better. But Casey was an immediate upgrade. And as I said before; Ertz is a beast. Here’s to hoping Chip gets it right regardless of who he sticks in to play.

  2. Either way Stevo, this is Brett Celek’s final Season an Eagle
    Ertz & Casey are just too athletic for Celek to get any substantial
    Playing time come 2014.. The 3rd TEcwill need to be a beast with blocking
    In th short-yardage/red-Zone and this us Celek’s strength
    I would Trade him to the Jets/Bears/Browbs for a 4th Rd Pick in 2014 right now

      1. Casey may start in the backfield a lot but will be moved in motion and go out wide or end of Tackle box, if you think Celek, Herremans, Avant, Vick, Tent Cole are in Chip Kelly’s long range plans, (beyond 2013) then your not paying close attention..

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