Some Philadelphia Eagles fans were frankly a bit shocked when, at the top of the second round, the Eagles selected tight end Zach Ertz out of Stanford. The fact is they should not have been. New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly loves to utilize the tight end, and he ideally wants as many athletes as he can get his hands on at that position, so he can rotate fresh bodies in an out in his no-huddle, up-tempo offensive attack.
Ertz represents a new wave of tight ends that have come into the league lately. He is too quick and athletic to be matched up on a linebacker and simply too physically big and strong for most safeties and corners to handle. Teams like the New Orleans Saints with Jimmy Graham and the New England Patriots with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are perfect examples of the benefits of what having an elite athlete at tight end can provide for a team.
With Ertz in the stable, the Eagles boast an impressive collection of tight ends that each bring different skill sets to the table. James Casey signed early in free agency; he can block on the line and also be used as a move tight end, essentially replacing the fullback position in Kelly’s offense, as a guy that can help protect the quarterback and also effectively run routes and catch passes. Brent Celek is the hard-nosed veteran who will always stick his nose in there on defensive ends and linebackers while also being a threat in the intermediate part of the field and in the red zone.
Ertz is the real weapon here, though. He has the skill set to do it all. He was a great route runner with the Cardinals and was a dominant player inside the 10 yard line when Stanford needed a score. Kelly will look to utilize him as a weapon in the red zone as a rookie as well as when defenses put extra linebackers or secondary players on the field creating a mismatch with Ertz’ athleticism and size.
Ertz has been pupiled by Brent Jones, a former Pro Bowl and Super Bowl Champion tight end. Jones has taught him everything from blocking, the correct way to run routes and what it takes to be a professional athlete. If Ertz hones his scary skill set and translates it onto the gridiron on Sundays, I believe he can become the league’s next great tight end.