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July 19, 2020

Eagles 2020 training camp preview: Tight end

Eagles NFL
18_01052020_EaglesvsSeahawks_Zach_Ertz_credKateFrese.jpg Kate Frese/All Rights Reserved

Zach Ertz enters the field before the Philadelphia Eagles wild card game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on January 5, 2020.

Over the next few weeks or so (basically whenever there isn't other news to cover), we'll take a look at every player on the Philadelphia Eagles' roster, and how they fit with the team heading into training camp, assuming, you know, there is a training camp. 

Training camp previews


Today we'll look at the tight ends. Currently, the Eagles only have four tight ends on the roster, after releasing Alex Ellis to make room for the signing of Jason Peters. The depth chart:

 TE1TE2 TE3 TE4 
 Zach ErtzDallas Goedert Josh Perkins Noah Togiai 

Zach Ertz

In his first four years in the NFL, Carson Wentz's most reliable target, by far, has been Ertz, who has led the team in receptions and yards in each of the last four seasons. In 2018, he had 51 more receptions than the next closest player, and 321 more yards. In 2019, he had 31 more receptions than the next closest player, and 309 more yards. On a team that still has major question marks at the wide receiver position, Ertz remains an extremely important player to Wentz heading into the 2020 season.

Ertz has been a player commonly brought up by the fan base as trade bait, since the team already has Dallas Goedert, a young, complete tight end who already looks like he might be a very good long-time starter in the NFL. That's not happening, of course, for the reasons noted above. The Eagles think they're Super Bowl contenders, and they were never going to trade their only tried-and-true, unquestionably reliable pass catcher. Whether they should give him a top-of-the-market contract extension is another debate, and one we covered in April.

Expect Ertz to lead the team in receptions and yards once again, and probably also receiving TDs.

Dallas Goedert

Goedert has proven in his first two seasons in the NFL that he would be the No. 1 tight end on all but, I don't know, 5 or 6 NFL teams? 

In 2018, Goedert "only" had 33 catches for 334 yards and 4 TDs (he added 2-20-1 in the playoffs), but displayed a well-rounded skill set with no obvious holes in his game. His ability as a receiver wasn't in question coming out of small South Dakota State, where he showed the flare to make highlight reel catches. However, most were resigned to the likelihood that it might take some time for him to come along as a blocker. Nope. He showed in his rookie season that he was already clearly the best blocking tight end on the team. 

In 2019, Goedert played almost the entirety of the season through a painful calf injury, and still caught 58 passes for 607 yards and 5 TDs. After Ertz took a vicious hit in the Eagles' biggest game of the season against Dallas Week 16, Goedert became Wentz's go-to receiver, catching 9 passes on 12 targets for 91 yards and a TD. On the season, Goedert's snap counts were up to 66 percent from 48 percent in 2018. I would project a modest rise in snap counts and production in 2020.

This offseason, Goedert was involved in an altercation in which he appeared to be knocked out by a "cheap shot."

The criminal case in the aftermath of that incident is ongoing, and could become a distraction, even with Goedert as the alleged victim.

Josh Perkins

Perkins is something of a wide receiver / tight end hybrid, in that he blocks like a wide receiver, and has the receiving skills of a tight end. For a team that wants to be a two-tight end offense, it's maybe slightly surprising the Eagles seem to be content with Perkins as the No. 3, at least for now?

Noah Togiai

Togiai, like the Eagles' other undrafted free agents, is going to have to make due with limited practice reps to impress the coaching staff. He does have some receiving chops and a little athletic ability, but his challenge will be to become a competent blocker. A highlight reel:

Togiai feels like a decent bet for the practice squad, where Justin Peelle can work on his blocking.

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