Geno Smith fell to the Eagles at 35. If they wanted him, they had him. They didn’t want him.
At least not as much as Stanford tight end Zach Ertz — the 6-5, 249-pounder out of Alamo, California.
“He’s a mismatch nightmare,” said Chip Kelly. “If you get him isolated on a defensive back it’s very, very difficult to cover because of his size, but he’s also too athletic to put linebackers on.”
Kelly has seen the damage Ertz can do up close. He had 11 grabs for 106 yards against Oregon last season, including a game-tying touchdown late in regulation. Stanford won in overtime, handing the Ducks their only defeat of the season.
“Very smart player. A great route-runner. I think he’s a guy that will really give us a lot flexibility in terms of what we can do,” said Kelly. “I’ve always been a heavy tight end guy. We don’t play with a fullback. We really use that second tight end — and now a third tight end. He’ll go in with Brent Celek and James Casey and add to the mix of what we can do and present a lot of problems for people.”
Jacksonville selected Florida International safety John Cyprien with the first pick in the second round. Tennessee then traded into the 34th slot (from San Francisco) and took Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter. The Eagles’ true feelings on the West Virginia signal-caller would be known.
Instead of selecting the man that Jeffrey Lurie traveled to Morgantown, West Virginia to check out, they went after arguably the second-best prospect in what is considered a quality tight-end class.
Kelly wasn’t concerned about whether Smith was going to come off the board (he went 39th to the Jets) but rather whether Ertz would be there. The Niners seemed like a good fit. So did trade partner Tennessee, which just lost Jared Cook in free agency.
“He was at the top of our board,” said Kelly. “Honestly we didn’t think he would be there.”
Ertz caught 69 balls for 898 yards and six touchdowns last season. He started nine games during his time in Stanford, finishing with 112 grabs for 1,434 yards and 15 TDs.
Kelly wouldn’t say what grade the team had on Smith or the rest of the QBs, only that they are going by their board and taking the best available player.
“It’s obviously a marquee position and gets a lot of notoriety but there’s also been some really good players picked,” said Kelly. “We thought of Zach as a first-round pick.”
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