Even with the addition of James Casey via free agency this offseason, the Eagles could still very well pick up a tight end in this draft.
A couple things to keep in mind:
— The fullback position is essentially no more under Chip Kelly. He can use that roster spot to carry an extra tight end if he chooses. The new head coach’s plan apparently is to “stockpile” players at the position.
— This is considered a quality batch of tight ends.
“In my estimation, it is the best position as far as depth for this draft on offense,” Adam Caplan said on the team’s website. “You see so many guys here that, frankly, could probably start Year One.”
The Eagles are looking big picture and are of the mind to acquire the best players, regardless of position. Not all drafts are as giving at tight end as this one promises to be, so it makes sense to grab a good one while you can.
Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert is the consensus top tight end in the class. He is projected to be taken later in the first round and probably won’t be in play for the Eagles. There are several attractive options in rounds 2-4, though, that could entice Kelly and Howie Roseman. One of those players is Stanford’s Zach Ertz (6-5, 249). Tommy Lawlor predicts that the Eagles will use their second-round pick on him.
Tony Pauline mentioned on Twitter that Zach Ertz might be the Eagles top rated TE. Ertz seems like what Kelly wants. He is an effective blocker, with room to grow. He has a good frame at 6-5. He can play in-line, in the slot, or as an H-back. Ertz caught plenty of passes out wide or downfield. He’s not just a checkdown receiver. This is a guy you get the ball to creatively. Versatile, athletic player.
Vance McDonald (6-4, 267) out of Rice got the attention of the Eagles’ coaching staff at the Senior Bowl. Travis Kelce (6-5, 255) is an interesting prospect. There are some character questions, but the Eagles have the benefit of looking to big brother Jason Kelce for answers.
Does the Eagles’ center think Travis will be in green next season?
“It depends. I think a lot of the draft is so [tied to] what happens before your pick you never know how it’s going to go, especially with those second and third round guys,” he said. “Travis has a lot of teams interested in him at this point. I know the Eagles like him.”
Greg Cosell mentions Florida’s Jordan Reed (6-3, 236) as a good fit for Kelly’s system. He likens Reed to Aaron Hernandez of the Patriots.
“I think offensively, using Oregon as the basis, [Kelly] runs a lot of spread, and wants skill position players that can threaten the defense from wherever they line up,” said Cosell. “I think he wants athletic movement players. You want receiving tight ends because they give defenses matchup issues.
“Reed is an athletic mover with wide receiver traits.”
Given that we are at the dawn of the Kelly era, it’s important not to get too caught up in the current make-up of the roster when projecting who will be brought on board. This team will slowly be molded in Kelly’s vision. And it seems that tight end is an important part of that vision.
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