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Eagles will be getting younger at tight end through the draft

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NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Texas Christian vs Oklahoma Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

2017 was a great year for the tight end position in Philadelphia. After years of steady production, Zach Ertz had somewhat of a breakout when he set a career high in touchdowns and generally played with a certain grit that a lot of Eagles fans had been waiting for. Ertz went from nice complementary piece in the passing game to being the centerpiece this season, leading the team in receptions by 17 catches.

In addition to Ertz’ Pro Bowl season, the Eagles got tremendous play out of Trey Burton. Burton, who made it onto the team as an undrafted free agent a few years ago; caught five touchdowns on only 30 targets. That impressive efficiency made him a dangerous role player in the Eagles offense and gave the team a lot of flexibility with how they could threaten a defense out of various formations.

Brent Celek set all kinds of career lows this year, underperforming last year which was also a career low in yardage at the time. He is clearly on his downward turn and at the end of his career, but remained an important part of the team’s locker room.

The Eagles have a lot of decisions to make this offseason at the tight end position. Trey Burton is set for free agency and the team will not likely be able to retain a budding star at the tight end position. Zach Ertz is under contract as a cornerstone of this offense, but the team might consider restructuring Brent Celek’s contract or even releasing him. Anyway, the 33 year old Celek’s play has been waning for the last few years and the team needs a viable second tight end.

The draft could provide some options for the team this year. While addressing the tight end position in the first round is basically out of the question due to Ertz, spending a mid round pick could really be beneficial. While the organization seems high on second year player, Billy Brown; expecting a wide receiver convert to break out after not playing his rookie season is a tall ask.

  • Mark Andrews, Oklahoma: Andrews will be a player I go to bat for all season. Andrews is 6’5” and 250 pounds but has the moves of a receiver. He is not a classic, in line player but was a match up nightmare at Oklahoma and could provide a similar dynamic at the next level.
  • Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State: Goedert seems to be the apple of many draft analysts’ eyes. The FCS pass catcher has great size at 6’4” and 255 pounds and he dominated his completion with two straight 1,000 yard seasons. He is a solid athlete with blocking skills. The biggest question will be adjusting to the pros.
  • Jaylen Samuels, NC State: It is a question mark where Jaylen Samuels will play in the NFL because he played everywhere in college. He is a true Swiss Army Knife who lined up in the backfield, at tight end, in the slot and everywhere else. At 5’11” and 230 pounds, he is built more like a power back than anything else. However, he is a tremendous athlete who plays very physical football. He could be a perfect replacement for Trey Burton.
  • Mike Gesicki, Penn State: Mike Gesicki was a focal point of the Penn State offense. He caught nine touchdowns and contributed heavily as a run blocker. Gesicki is a good athlete, but is more old school in how he was deployed at Penn State. He will be an immediate impact rookie, but might lack the upside of his peers.
  • Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin: Fumagalli is another old school tight end who is incredibly physical as a blocker and pass catcher. He does not have the same speed as a lot of these other guys, but he can get the job done in the short passing game and make contested catches.
  • Adam Breneman, UMASS: After transferring from Penn State, Adam Breneman turned into a weapon for the Minutemen. He caught 134 passes in the last two years there and fought through injury to lead a UMASS passing game where he was really the only option. Breneman has a huge frame at 6’5” and nearly 260 pounds. He moves very well for his size and has dependable hands.

While this class lacks the big names at the top like last year’s draft, the Eagles could benefit from its structure because of how middle heavy it is. The team could take any one of these guys on the second or third day and it could add something very immediate to the passing game.