Don’t be shocked if the Eagles draft another tight end this year…

I know what you’re thinking. You’ve read the headline and that train of thought has left and is now en-route to typing in caps lock about how silly the idea of drafting a tight end would be given the rise of Zach Ertz and potential of Dallas Goedert…but I need you to hear me out.

I’d like to take you back to 2014. That year won’t go down as one of the most important or exciting in Eagles history like the ones that followed, but it was the last time that the tight end position was completely ‘reset’.

Zach Ertz was drafted one year beforehand and broke out that season, posting 702 yards and scoring three touchdowns. Behind him, two veterans in the way of Brent Celek and James Casey helped provide mentorship and reliability for a team who at the time was predicated on a balanced offense, meaning the tight ends had big roles to play. But waiting in the wings, under the radar, was an undrafted free agent by the name of Trey Burton.

The tight end quartet is something that has been a staple of the Andy Reid/ Doug Pederson culture for quite some time and although 2014 was the year of Chip Kelly, its roots ran deep.

“I don’t know if I’d be in the league right now if I didn’t have Celek, Ertz and James Casey in my rookie year.” Former Eagles Tight End, Trey Burton, told me in an interview back in 2017. “I can’t really describe what they mean to me on and off the field but I owe so much to those guys. For their work ethics, their attitudes and on top of that how they treated me throughout this whole process. Being a fourth tight end doesn’t happen that often in the league, especially an inactive fourth tight end. The encouragement I’ve received from them, the knowledge, the wisdom, the friendship off the field.”

It’s easy to look at the Eagles tight end spot as a position of strength. Especially after Zach Ertz finally crushed the 1,000 yard single-season mark and broke NFL records in 2018. But there was an element of weakness when it came to depth.

If you cast your minds back to the opening few weeks of the season, Dallas Goedert was rarely used at all, while Joshua Perkins was somewhat squandering the opportunities handed to him. An injury to Richard Rodgers really didn’t help matters and by the time the Eagles started shifting their offense to a primary base of 12-personnel, the addition of a third tight end would’ve been extremely valuable…just look at Trey Burton’s production in his final year as an Eagle.

The Eagles have two tight ends on the roster as of right now. Zach Ertz has become the leader of the pack, taking over the Animal Kingdom, but that doesn’t mean the Birds’ don’t need depth. Dallas Goedert had a very promising rookie campaign, but drafting a third tight end at a minimum in what is a very deep class of talent is preferable here.

Once the Eagles can begin running 13-personnel again, it opens up a whole new realm of offensive creativity. Whether all three are used as blockers, or you use ‘nub’ tight ends on either side of the line, their presence will only expedite a run game the Eagles have been dying to rebuild.

Not only that, but it takes a certain level of weight off a wide receiver position (due to there being one less on the field), which for a team still starved of a WR2 and potentially losing Nelson Agholor, can only be seen as a good thing.

Trey Burton went from an undrafted special teamer, to catching 5 touchdowns during the Eagles’ 2017 campaign and earning himself a big payday in Chicago. But that marked the final chapter in what was a very efficient quartet. Brent Celek retired, James Casey played just two years in Philadelphia before injuries began to haunt him, and Trey Burton moved on. Ertz is the lone player remaining…and it’s about time the Eagles kick up the conveyor belt once more as another star pass-catcher endeavors to go down as a franchise legend.

Having two great tight ends is one thing, but being able to implement a third and keep defenses honest when mixing personnel could be one of the most underrated cogs of the offseason.

The Eagles were able to coup a pair of compensatory picks in this year’s draft and there’s no reason why one couldn’t be used on bringing in an extra tight end.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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