Some Options the Eagles Have to Fit the Tight End Need

The Eagles are well into free agency signing both; Corey Nelson and Haloti Ngata, but they have dealt with their fair share of losses as well. Trey Burton signed with the Chicago Bears and Brent Celek was released due to the salary cap situation. The Eagles currently have Zach Ertz and Billy Brown on the roster, so adding a tight end or two will be expected over the next few weeks. Zach Ertz made his first pro bowl this season and he was one of the biggest offensive weapons for this Super Bowl winning team, and Billy Brown was on the practice squad for the 2017-2018 season but seems to be a guy the Eagles really like as a pass catcher. The Eagles aren’t expected to make a big slash with the tight end position, but it is a position that the team likes to use with multiple sets.

Here are a few options for the Eagles to replace Trey Burton and Brent Celek:

Free Agents

Martellus Bennett (Age: 30)

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The Eagles brought in Martellus’s brother this offseason and they now have a need at tight end with Trey Burton leaving in free agency and Brent Celek being released. Bennett is on the back end of his career so playing for a contender and taking a pay cut is an option to play with his brother. Of the free agents available Bennett makes the most sense for the Eagles.


Eric Ebron (Age: 24)

Ebron is a former first round pick for the Detroit Lions that never lived up to the expectations. Lions were rumored to have put Ebron on the trade block this offseason. Obviously there was little to no interest around the league for the former top 10 pick. I still see upside with Ebron if he can stay on the field. The Eagles like moving their tight ends around and Ebron is athletic enough to line up as a tradition tight end, as a receiver, and even in the back field. Ebron could be a target for a short-term deal. Signing Ebron wouldn’t count towards the expected compensatory that will be received next year for Trey Burton, Beau Allen, Patrick Robinson and Legarrette Blount since Ebron was cut.


Tyler Eifert (Age: 27) 

In 2015 Tyler Eifert was look at as one of the best up and coming tight ends in the league making the pro bowl and catching 13 touchdowns. Since his pro bowl season Eifert has appeared in only 10 games with 33 receptions for 440 yards. Eifert isn’t a guy that makes sense for the Eagles in my opinion because of his injury history. The Eagles need a backup tight end that they can rely on and Effect doesn’t provide that.


Draft Prospects

Mike Gesicki, Penn State (1st round talent)

GLENDALE, AZ – DECEMBER 30: (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Even though adding Mike Gesicki to the Eagles offense would be a treat, drafting a tight end in the first round isn’t the most ideal pick. If the Eagles were to trade back in the first round and pick up an early second rounder along with a third, then Mike would make some sense for the Eagles. Watching Gesicki the last two years at Penn State was awesome and getting him on the Eagles would be a dream come true for many Penn State fans.


Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State (2nd round talent)

Dallas Goedert plays more as a receiver than a tight end, but that doesn’t mean he can’t block. Goedert would give the Eagles another weapon in the red zone where Carson Wentz loves targeting tight ends. If the Eagles were to draft Goedert I would consider running two tight end sets more often than not.


Dalton Schultz, Stanford (3rd round talent)

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Watching Schultz in college really brought me back to Zach Ertz who was also a former Stanford Cardinal. Schultz plays to much like Ertz to make sense for the Eagles, but if he’s there in the fourth the Eagles could pick him based on value. Ertz and Schultz would provide the Eagles with two really nice pass catching tight ends.


Mark Andrews, Oklahoma (late 3rd round talent)

Scouts continue to compare Andrews to Coby Fleener and that’s a fair assessment. It’s hard to find any tape on Andrews as a blocker at Oklahoma and that is simply because he was used as a slot receiver most of the time. Andrews almost notched 1,000 yards receiving for the Sooners this year so the pass catching ability is certainly there. If the Eagles are looking for a tight end to replace Trey Burton, Mark Andrews doesn’t fit the mold. Burton thrived as both a blocking and pass catching and that isn’t the case for Andrews especially in the third round.


Chris Herndon, Miami – (4th to 5th round talent)

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Chris Herndon is built like a receiver and he is a matchup nightmare against outside linebackers. Miami used Herndon all over the field, but he was mostly effective in the slot. Herndon has the ability to catch a screen and take it all the way with his athletic ability. Herndon usually makes the first tackler miss by either a juke move or lowering the pads. Herndon will get a lot of yards after the catch; which is something that the Eagles never really had with their tight ends. Considering the Eagles have three picks in the fourth and fifth round (as of now) Herndon definitely could be the replacement for Trey Burton.


Jaylen Samuels, NC State (4th to 5th round talent)

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Jaylen Samuels is one of the most interesting prospects in the class and that is basically because he plays every position on the field. Watching Samuels at North Carolina State is a treat and would make perfect sense for the Eagles offense. Samuel is hybrid player that will be a tight end/full back/slot receiver/kick returner/special teams gunner in the NFL, and to compare him to a player I’d throw out Trey Burton. Samuels is a better athlete than Trey, but just doesn’t have the same size standing at only 5’11” on a good day. Drafting Samuels on the third day of the draft would be something to look at.


Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin (5th round talent)

Fumagalli has been one of the most productive pass catchers for the Badgers the last two years and that is due to his ability to make difficult catches. Troy is athletic enough to jump up using his 6’6″ frame to get the ball at the highest point and bring it down for a catch. His blocking ability continues to get better which is why I see a lot of Brent Celek in Fumagalli. The Eagles have one fifth round pick (as of now) and Fumagalli would be perfect to run two tight end sets with for years to come.


Durham Smythe, Notre Dame (6th round talent)

One thing comes to mind when watching Smythe at Notre Dame… he’s an offensive tackle playing tight end. That shouldn’t be an insult, that is just how good of a blocker he is at the point of attack. Smythe will start out as a tight end, but tackle might be his calling and the Eagles like blocking tight ends considering that was what Brent Celek was for most of his career. Picking Smythe in the seventh round is on the table, but that would mean the Eagles fell comfortable enough in Billy Brown to be the second receiving tight end in 2018.


Jordan Atkins, UCF – (7th to undrafted talent)

When watching Atkins you can see that he isn’t your traditional tight end. Central Florida plays Atkins at outside receiver, slot, and fullback as well. Atkins is a former minor league outfielder so tracking a ball is easy for him and his hands are arguably the best in the class. His run blocking is something I really like, but scouts knock him for his strength. Picking Akins with the seventh rounder acquired with Michael Bennett is a move to be had for the Eagles looking for their next gadget player.  


 

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