When Zach Ertz was drafted in 2013, there were high expectations that he was going to be one of the best tight ends in the NFL.
The Philadelphia Eagles selected tight end Zach Ertz in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Stanford. He was the second tight end taken off the board behind Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert. Ertz was in a class of some big-named tight ends like Jordan Reed, Travis Kelce and Eifert. After watching Ertz play for four seasons in the NFL, I ask this question; is he overrated?
Before everybody goes crazy coming into Ertz’s defense, lets just go straight to the statistics to figure out where he ranks amongst the rest of the NFL’s tight ends.
In 2013, Ertz had 36 receptions for 469 yards and four touchdowns. He ranked fourth in his draft class, and ranked second behind his teammate Brent Celek. 2013 was a solid rookie campaign from Ertz, though. This was the season that made everybody think he was well on his way to becoming one of the league’s best tight ends.
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2014 was a major upgrade for Ertz, he had 58 receptions for 702 yards and three touchdowns. He ranked 11th in the NFL for receiving yards for tight ends, this time being second in his draft class. In 2015, Ertz kept on climbing on the stat sheet. He had 75 receptions for 853 yards and two touchdowns. He ranked seventh in the league for tight ends.
Last season, Ertz ended the season ranked fifth in the league for tight ends. He had 78 receptions for 816 yards and four touchdowns. So clearly he has improved statistically over his first four years in the NFL. So why does it feel like he still hasn’t exceeded expectations?
Ertz is wildly inconsistent. In 2016, it took him until the eighth game of the season that he played in to score his first touchdown. After that, he scored only three more during the second half of the season, two of the touchdowns being in the meaningless final game against the Dallas Cowboys‘ backups.
There are games where Ertz looks like one of the best tight ends in the NFL, and then there are weeks where you don’t even know if he is playing or not. So why is the bar so high for Ertz to out perform his peers?
The Pressure is On
Ever since Ertz had his debut season in the NFL, there was a ton of talk about how he could be one of the elite tight ends in the NFL. Every season people say, “This is Ertz’s big year!” But yet, it still doesn’t feel like he had that monster year we’ve been expecting. The truth is, Ertz is what he is—a good, not great, tight end.
Guys like Chad Lewis and Brent Celek have been beloved in the city of Philadelphia for years and they were never expected to be one of the greatest in the league. They just came out and played the position and everybody loved it. Nobody expected too much out of them, they just expected them to come out and play hard.
So when you look at the numbers, Ertz has clearly improved over his first four years as an NFL tight end. There is no denying he is one of the better players on the Eagles’ offense, but it is time to lower expectations for the guy. With the Eagles set to have a better year in the passing game with an upgraded receiving corps, Ertz could see a dip in his numbers. That is okay as long as he comes in clutch when it matters.