Rookie tight end Dallas Goedert has yet to provide a substantial boost as a receiving threat, but the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles have plenty of reason to keep him on the field. The second round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft is providing value in other ways.
Goedert’s development as a player is important to an Eagles’ offense that runs 12/13 personnel a league high 44% of snaps. His receiving stat line of 13 catches, 113 yards and 1 touchdown hasn’t been a boon for the passing game.
Still, he’s been fairly efficient. Per Pro Football Focus, his 1.22 yards per route run ranks 23rd out of 37 qualifying tight ends and comes in second for rookies. His 86.7% catch rate is encouraging as well, but again, this is not the promise fulfilling explosion that likely won’t happen until year two or three of his career.
Even on the runs that didn’t prove successful, Goedert consistently did his job. Here he works to the second level against stud rookie linebacker Darius Leonard. Absorbing Leonard’s initial charge, Goedert works to re-leverage his hands and uncoils his hips before finishing the block. His effort in this area was something that was questioned in the pre-draft process, but that hasn’t been a problem for him so far.
“Effort level as blocker can be inconsistent. Needs to get better hip roll into initial contact. May need a fire lit under him in order to handle in-line blocking duties as a pro.” - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
When Goedert was on the field against the Colts, the Eagles averaged 4.74 yards per carry with a robust 57% success rate. Both those numbers would jump against the Minnesota Vikings where he proved once again that he can do more than just take on smaller linebackers.
Goedert wins this rep by striking inside with his hands, uncoiling his hips, and keeping his feet active while sealing and driving to the whistle. He’s done this consistently in against bigger linemen throughout the early portions of the season and it’s something he has obviously put a big value on in his development.
He spoke about this aspect of his game at the NFL Combine, and the results have shown they’re more than just words.
“I want to be a three-down tight end in the league. So I’m going to have to be able to block. I didn’t do a ton of blocking at South Dakota State, but when I did, I put my head in there. I have to work on it a little bit, but I’ve been doing it already when I’ve been training. I plan on getting a lot better at it and being one of the best tight ends in the league.” - Dallas Goedert
The Eagles deploy him in a variety of ways in the run game and he’s taken on more responsibilities than they ever asked of the departed Trey Burton. Whether it’s cut blocks on split zone, seal blocks on the end man on the line of scrimmage, second level blocks on linebackers, or wham blocking 300+ pounders, Goedert has been initiated in all the blocks the Eagles running game requires of him.
Despite still learning the playbook, Goedert has seen over 30 snaps in four consecutive games. The Eagles run game has seen the biggest impact from this, and when he’s on the field they’re averaging 4.47 yards per carry and an efficient 50% success rate. That data is backed up by the film. It’s not to say he’s not perfect though. Every now and then he will miss some angles, but that’s been the exception, not the rule.
Beyond his run game contributions, he’s also been tasked with aiding the offensive line in pass blocking. This helped the Eagles pull off one of their biggest gains of the season.
The unsung hero of this play is unquestionably Goedert. Early third round pick Lorenzo Carter tries everything he can to escape him, including a long arm stab that gets flagged for illegal use of hands. Goedert seals him out, keeping his feet moving and re-leveraging his hands inside to allow Carson Wentz enough time to find Nelson Agholor for a 58-yard gain.
The Eagles can afford to be patient with Goedert while not getting bombastic returns in the receiving game. The improvement he’s shown from college to the pros as a blocker indicates he’s a hard worker that takes pride in mastering his craft. The yards in the passing game will come, but for now the Eagles are enjoying the yards he’s helping others create.