Dallas Goedert would love to point to the moment when it all clicked in, when he knew, just knew, that he had "gotten it" as an NFL player in his 2018 rookie season, but it's hard to recall.
"It feels like my rookie year flew by so fast that I honestly had trouble looking back and kind of thinking about what happened," said Goedert, the team's first draft pick in '18 who fit right into the tight end picture alongside Pro Bowl and NFL record-setter Zach Ertz. "They say your rookie year goes fast. That's kind of an understatement. It was way fast."
Now, of course, Goedert is a young veteran. The chaos of 12 months ago is replaced by some institutional knowledge of the cadence of an NFL day – the tempo, the schedule, the expectations from the coaching staff. Goedert showed a glimpse of his enormous talent as a rookie, contributing 33 receptions, 334 yards, and four touchdowns. He also worked hard and improved significantly as a blocker, and as a route runner, and as a receiver creating space with subtle moves and veteran-like nuances.
"I know this," Goedert said, "I'm in a different place than I was a year ago. I feel like I've improved in every area. I worked hard at it. I think in this game you're never a finished product, so there is always work to do. I like that part of it a lot."
The Eagles are going to like Goedert in 2019 as the idea of 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) has been an area of discussion in the media. As in, "How are the Eagles going to team Ertz and Goedert and challenge defenses to cover both players?" There are a lot of ways the offense can go with this, and the ability to have two excellent tight ends in the game illustrates the versatility within the personnel packages of the offense. The Eagles can throw when they have two tight ends in the game and they can also run the football, so defenses are going to be stretched to figure out what is coming when both Ertz and Goedert are in there together.
That kind of position flexibility is why the Eagles used the 49th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on Goedert, who was a two-time All-American player at South Dakota. The Eagles envisioned exactly what they're getting with Goedert as he teams with Ertz. Both can run, both catch everything thrown their way, and both can move around the formation to create favorable matchups.
"I think we work well together," Goedert said. "Zach is a great player and I've learned so much from him. In this offense, we can do a lot with the tight ends, so I'm here to do whatever they ask me to do. I just want to help the team win games."
It obviously remains to be seen how the Eagles will employ their tight ends. But just having players of the caliber of Ertz and Goedert (and Richard Rodgers, Joshua Perkins, and Will Tye, for that matter, who give the Eagles as deep a group of tight ends as any team in the NFL) adds diversity to the X's and O's and to the ways that the offense goes after defensive shortcomings.
For Goedert, as he surveys the Eagles' locker room and sees the rookie class scurrying around, heads spinning, eyeing the huge media numbers, rushing to get to meetings, making sure they aren't drowning in the playbook, it all brings back the thought of how fast things move in this league. You never look back, they say. You keep your focus on the present.
"You have to get used to the speed of things, for sure," Goedert said. "It takes some time. As soon as you get here, you're on the move. It's tough to catch up sometimes. But if you keep your head down and keep grinding, understanding that it's your job now, things slow down.
"I feel like it's all slowed down for me. I can go out there and just play football and not think. That makes me a better football player. I'm pretty happy with where I'm at, continuing to work, continuing to enjoy this."
Life in the NFL's fast lane has slowed for Goedert, just as he speeds up his game. Everything is more precise for Goedert the second time around. He is fast on the field and as he showed to open the Organized Team Activities, he's going to be in the right place at the right time and he's going to catch everything thrown his way.
All of those big plays he'll make in 2019? He'll remember them in the future. That's just one of the differences a year makes in the world of the NFL.