2013 was supposed to be the year of the TE for the Eagles. There would be 2, 3 or maybe even 4 on the field at once. Chip Kelly was going to wow us all with the way he used his TEs. That didn’t exactly happen.
We don’t know exactly why, but Kelly ended up going with a 3-WR attack for most of the year. He did play TEs more later in the season, but still not as much as was expected. One thing is sure, the Eagles don’t lack talent at the TE position. Brent Celek has become one of the best blocking TEs in the league and he is still dangerous as a receiver. Zach Ertz had a terrific rookie season and showed excellent potential. James Casey was a disappointment, but still is one of the more versatile players in the league.
Chris Wesseling of NFL.com ranked the TEs around the league. He ranked Celek and Ertz. Celek was rated a “Solid Starter”, while Ertz fell into the category of “Production/Potential”.
I think calling Celek a “solid starter” is fair. He’s never been a player that opposing defenses fear, but has always been a productive, reliable player. I also think Celek is one of those players who is going to be more appreciated by people who watch him 16 games a year than those who study a couple of games here and there. If you focus on the numbers, Celek isn’t going to wow you.
Those who watch him fight for every single yard on every single play appreciate his effort and intensity. Celek’s emotion brings some energy to the field and can help fire up his teammates. While you don’t want to overvalue that, you also don’t want to dismiss it. There is value in players who can fire up and motivate their teammates and the fans. Football is an emotional game.
Ertz has big time potential and could become a star TE in a year or two. He showed some of his potential last year as he went 36-469-4. Averaging 13 yards per reception is very impressive for a TE, especially a rookie. Ertz is a gifted receiver. The one area he must focus on is blocking. Ertz knows this and talked about it with PE.com.
There was speculation that Casey might get cut by the Eagles. I don’t think that is going to happen. He didn’t play as much or as well as expected in 2013, but I think Kelly still values his versatility. I also think Kelly wants to use TEs more this season. If so, he’ll need more than just Celek and Ertz.
Emil Igwenagu is still in the mix, as are rookies Blake Annen and Trey Burton. Iggy just isn’t an overly talented player. There’s no question of effort or toughness, but he’s not very big and isn’t special athletically. Annen has very good size and athleticism, but is raw. He could develop into a good backup with time.
Burton is the most interesting guy. The Eagles list him at 235, but he was only 225 at his Pro Day. Burton is a good athlete. He never found a home in terms of position while in college, but made his share of plays.