Rookie Review: Is Zach Ertz Primed To Emerge As A TE1 In 2014?

Drafted: 2nd round, 35th overall

 

2013 Statistics:
36 receptions for 469 yards and 4 TD

  • Ranked 17th among rookies in receptions (5th among rookie tight ends)
  • Ranked 12th among rookies in receiving yards (3rd among rookie tight ends)
  • Ranked 7th among rookies in receiving TD

 

2013 Season:
Ertz came on strong at the end of the season, registering 15 receptions and 3 TD in December (as well as scoring a touchdown in the team’s playoff loss). He was also targeted at least 5 times in three of the final five regular season games, showing that his role was finally starting to expand.

Ertz was quoted by Jimmy Kempski of the Philadelphia Daily News, saying (click here for the full article):

“I think I was utilized more in the gameplan (in the second half of the season),” said Ertz. “One of the big things was that I was used out wide, in the slot, in the 3-point, obviously. I think the game just kind of slowed down as well. I think the coaches did a heck of a job with me personally as the season progressed, learning my role, since I wasn’t here for OTAs. That a big thing that I’ll have this offseason that I didn’t have last offseason.”

He was obviously still hit or miss in the game plans late in the season, including having days of 0 and 1 target in December. He still obviously came a long ways as the season progressed (he had 11 total targets in the first five games). The expansion of his role was obvious and should lead to significantly better lines moving forward.

 

2014 Outlook:
It’s hard to imagine it all coming at once for Ertz, but he should continue to grow into the offense. Especially with Desean Jackson now in Washington and rookie wide receivers being the big additions, it’s easy to imagine Ertz playing a major role.  Tight ends are becoming more and more important, and it has become obvious that Brent Celek can’t produce big numbers. In fact, he’s coming off a season with just 32 receptions and he’s scored once in the past two years.

As for Ertz, with the ability to lineup in three wide receiver sets and his development as the season progressed, you would think his numbers are going to continue to grow. Last season there were:

  • 16 tight ends with at least 50 receptions
  • 13 tight ends with at least 600 yards
  • 11 tight ends with at least 6 TD

In the Eagles high paced offense, all of those numbers are attainable and more. In other words, while you won’t have to invest in him as a TE1, the upside is there for him to reach that level.

 

Sources – ESPN, NFL.com, Philadelphia Daily News

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