In part three of our training camp preview series, we looked at how the wide receiver position is now a strength for the Eagles. However, unlike wide receiver and the two other position groups we previewed beforehand, there are a couple of new faces at the tight end spot.
The Eagles lost Trey Burton in free agency to the Chicago Bears and released 11-year veteran Brent Celek for financial reasons. Who will replace those guys and help out All-Pro Zach Ertz? Let’s find out!
1. Zach Ertz – Every season, Eagles fans always peg Zach Ertz to have a breakout year. And for good reason, the tight end position plays an integral part in the Eagles’ offense.
After years of just falling short, Ertz surpassed everybody’s expectations in 2017. Last season, Ertz had 74 receptions (110 targets) for 824 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns.
If New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was the best tight end in the league last year, then Ertz was right there with him.
The fifth-year veteran had nine games last season with five or more catches becoming the perfect safety valve for quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. Ertz also made his impact felt in the playoffs, especially in the Super Bowl.
Ertz scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter and made key catches down the stretch to help the Eagles capture their first Vince Lombardi Trophy. This should be another outstanding season for Ertz.
2. Dallas Goedert – In the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Eagles shocked many people by not taking a running back with their first pick. Instead, they opted for former South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert.
Goedert, just like Wentz, played college football in the FCS, formerly known as D1-AA. The 6-foot-4 tight end was an absolute star at South Dakota State, racking up 198 receptions for 2,988 yards and 21 touchdowns over four years.
Last season at SDST, Goedert showed why he was one of the best tight end prospects in the draft. He had 72 receptions for 1,111 yards and seven touchdowns.
However, Goedert’s junior season was his breakout year as he compiled 92 receptions for 1,293 yards and 11 touchdowns.
With the Eagles, Goedert should be able to showcase his athleticism as they love to run a lot of two-tight end sets. He should also get some good looks from opposing defense, playing with Ertz.
3. Billy Brown/Richard Rodgers – The third tight end job could come down to either Brown or Rodgers. In the offseason, the Eagles signed Rodgers to a one-year deal. Prior to joining the Eagles, Rodgers spent four years with the Green Bay Packers.
The 26-year-old Rodgers’ best season with Green Bay came in 2015, where he had 58 receptions for 510 yards and eight touchdowns. Since then, Rodgers has 42 receptions for 431 yards and three touchdowns.
His competition, Billy Brown was signed as an undrafted free agent last season out of Shepherd University. Brown spent the entire season on the Eagles practice squad, making the transition from wide receiver to tight end.
In his last two seasons at Division II Shepherd, Brown dominated as a wide receiver, racking up 188 receptions for 3,072 yards and 32 touchdowns.
He definitely stood out each week during the college football season and showed why he deserved a look in the NFL.
Now, the 6-foot-4 tight end must prove in his second season that he ready to take that next step. Brown has to show that he can be a capable blocker, along with being a viable pass catcher.
If he can do both of these things, Brown will win the third tight end job.