The Philadelphia Eagles explosive offense will feature a multitude of skill position players making noise in the passing game, as Nick Foles can dump it off to LeSean McCoy or Darren Sproles in the backfield, and he has a talented wide receiver trio in Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, and standout rookie Jordan Matthews. But the Eagles depth at tight end yields their most intriguing weapon on offense, and that is Zach Ertz, who is viewed by many as a clear breakout candidate for the 2014 season.
A top-notch pass-catching TE, Ertz caught 36 passes for 469 yards and four touchdowns, and he has terrific ball skills and the ability to stretch the field deep. The Eagles are versatile and deep at TE as a whole, but the former Stanford star is the most versatile of them all. According to ESPN’s Adam Caplan, Ertz will be lined up in a “variety of locations” by the Eagles, and he tweeted this in reference to a comment by offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur on how the tight ends give the offense more flexibility.
James Casey and Brent Celek will have niche roles in the offense, but Ertz has the upside to become the team’s most important pass-catcher due to his unique tools. And like fellow versatile NFC East second-year TE Jordan Reed, Ertz showed up well as a blocker last season despite it being one of his weaknesses in college. Celek and Casey are top blockers at the position, so Ertz will be left to handle the pass-catching duties, which are a more important contribution for him to make in the Eagles offense. It’s not a surprise at all to hear he’ll be used all over the place, and we could even see him split out wide or in the backfield as an H-Back; slot snaps are a guarantee, so we’ll see how many times he lines up on the outside.