Acquired: Selected in the second round, 35th overall, of the 2013 NFL Draft
The Eagles selected Zach Ertz with the third pick of the second round (35th overall) following a standout career at Stanford, where he led all tight ends in the nation as a senior with 69 catches for 898 yards (and six touchdowns). General manager Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly, who coached against Ertz at Oregon, could not have been more excited about nabbing Ertz and gushed about the 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end's potential as a matchup nightmare in the offense because of his wide receiver-like capabilities.
It was apparent early on in Training Camp why the Eagles liked Ertz so much and that he could be major contributor. Too big for defensive backs and too fast for linebackers, he lined up all over the formation and made catches at all levels of the field. It took Ertz some time, however, to become comfortable enough as a blocker to warrant consistent playing time once the regular season started.
He made his first impact against the Chargers in Week 2 with a 31-yard reception, but, by his own admission, it was not until the 49-20 win over the Oakland Raiders in front of family and friends, when he caught five passes for 42 yards and his first career touchdown, that he felt things really started to click. From that point on, Ertz saw his playing time, and his contributions to the offense, steadily increase. Over the final seven games of the regular season, Ertz developed a rapport with quarterback Nick Foles and had 17 catches for 226 yards and three touchdowns. He added three catches for 22 yards in the Wild Card Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints.
Ertz led all rookie tight ends in 2013 with 36 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns, which, based on first-year production from some of the best tight ends in the game, is a very positive sign for his future trajectory. He has stated that his goal is to be one of the best tight ends ever, and if history is any indication, he is poised for a breakout season in 2014 as a key weapon in Kelly's offense.
TOP PLAY OF THE YEAR
As the Eagles were attempting to mount a comeback in their eventual Week 15 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Ertz made an incredibly athletic, leaping, one-handed touchdown catch over a defender in the final seconds of the third quarter to make the score 27-22. Honorable mention: Full extension, diving catch along the sidelines against the Giants in Week 5.
1. That's the number of drops Ertz had as a rookie in 56 targets, which comes out to just a 1.8 percent drop rate. He had some issues with drops in college and Training Camp, but was very sure-handed during the season.
DID YOU KNOW
1. Ertz made quite the impression on Kelly in college when Stanford handed Oregon its only loss of 2012, so much so that the Eagles head coach desperately wanted the tight end to be part of his NFL offense. In said game, the Ducks simply could not cover Ertz, who had a career-high 11 catches for 106 yards and the tying touchdown grab with 1:35 left in the fourth quarter.
2. In addition to his on-field exploits, Ertz has done pretty well for himself off the field too. His girlfriend, Julie Johnston, is a member of the United States women’s national soccer team.