Next up in our roundup of the most interesting questions facing each position group heading into the 2013 season is tight end, where the Eagles made two high-profile offseason additions while the longtime starter returns as well.
1. How Many Tight Ends Can The Eagles Play At Once?
But without the presence of a traditional fullback on roster, it's actually not too farfetched to envision a scenario with all three on the field at the same time. Casey is probably the most versatile of the three physically and is likely to be employed in a variety of roles on offense. Celek is the most traditional tight end, though he’s no slouch athletically himself – he actually leads all NFL tight ends with 1,531 yards after catch since 2009. Both Celek and Casey have become solid blockers over time in the NFL, a task that will rank highly on Ertz’s to-do list come Training Camp. So with an offense that may revolve around quick passes and the ground game, don’t be surprised if we see a lot of all three this season.
2. How Quickly Can Zach Ertz Get Up To Speed?
Of course, how much we see Ertz will depend heavily on how ready he proves to be in handling life in the NFL. Complicating matters is Ertz’s absence from the vast majority of the Eagles’ offseason, thanks to Stanford’s late graduation date. During that time, Ertz was unable to take part in the installation of a large part of the Eagles offense, but there will be plenty of time to learn those nuances over the long Training Camp to come. Working in Ertz’s favor is that he figures to be a quick study, having graduated with a degree in management science & engineering from Stanford. Still, there’s a long way to go for Ertz over the next couple months.
So how have rookie tight ends fared recently? Over the last five seasons, 11 tight ends have been taken in the first two rounds, including the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett and Kyle Rudolph. The best season during that time belongs to John Carlson, who caught 55 passes for 627 for the Seattle Seahawks in 2008. The worst season goes to Richard Quinn, who caught, well, zero passes for the Denver Broncos in 2009. The average season for those 11 rookies? Thirty catches for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Consider that the benchmark, then, for Ertz in year 1. Meanwhile, the average season for that same group of players in their second season is more promising – 47 catches for 543 yards and six touchdowns.
3. Is There Room For A Fourth?
Considering the frequency with which many are expecting the offense to utilize the tight ends, there’s a possibility that the Eagles would keep four tight ends on the 53-man roster.
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