Why Zach Ertz could envision the Philadelphia Eagles drafting a first-round tight end
PHILADELPHIA — Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman praised tight end Zach Ertz on Thursday, saying the former Stanford star churned out “unreal” production over his first four NFL seasons.
But even with Ertz signed through 2020 and two capable reserves on this year’s depth chart, some experts have suggested the Birds might consider drafting Alabama tight end O.J. Howard with the No. 14 overall pick.
And that idea doesn’t seem crazy to Ertz. He won’t rule anything out once the draft gets going April 27 in Philadelphia.
“Howie and [vice president of player personnel] Joe [Douglas] are going to do a great job of bringing in the best players for this team,” Ertz said Thursday, “and if they think that tight end is the position that they want to draft, that’s what they’re going to draft.”
It’s unlikely the Eagles are pining to add an extra tight end, though. Ertz led the team with 816 receiving yards last season, Brent Celek remained sturdy as a veteran blocking tight end and Trey Burton racked up a caree-best 327 yards in 2016.
The Eagles have more glaring needs on their roster, particularly at defensive end, cornerback and running back.
Still, the 6-foot-6, 251-pound Howard has left scout mesmerized with his size and talent . And as Ertz mentioned, the Eagles’ depth at tight end is more murky beyond the 2017 season, which could force the team to consider adding a youngster at the position.
Celek, 32, is likely nearing the end of his career, while Burton is eligible to enter unrestricted free agency next offseason.
“We don’t really know about Celek and Trey,” Ertz said. “I know Trey just signed a tender, and Brent’s kind of getting to that age.”
Using that logic, the Eagles could draft Howard and have him play a reduced role in 2017, before letting him team up with Ertz as a one-two punch at tight end in 2018 and beyond.
That’s a hypothetical at this point. But it’s one Ertz envisioned as a possibility.
Ertz said he isn’t sure what the Eagles’ plans are and didn’t seem bothered by the thought that a first-round tight end could be in the mix. The 26-year-old insisted that he’ll be happy with whomever Philly drafts with the 14th overall selection, so long as the player provides the team a boost.
“When you’re drafting that high in the draft, you got to add impact players,” Ertz said. “And whether it be a defensive player or offensive player, we trust Howie and Joe.”
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