Stanford tight end Zach Ertz is taking his pass-catching skills to the NFL.
The redshirt junior has officially declared for the draft, according to ESPN's Joe Schad:
Stanford TE Zach Ertz will enter the next NFL Draft according to a source.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) January 7, 2013
The news is not a shock. Ertz is coming off of an outstanding season, as he had 66 catches for 837 yards and six touchdowns.
The 6'6", 252-pound tight end is as good of a pass-catcher at tight end as any team will be able to find in this draft.
He is quick off the line with solid speed, and he was even effective this season when split out wide, where his big frame creates serious mismatches.
For a young man coming out of college, Ertz is a polished route-runner. He is strong out of his breaks, has good footwork and is effective using head fakes. He also posses nice ball skills and reliable hands.
Blocking is another story, though. Ertz is not a terrible blocker, but at this point, he is setting screens more than he blocks. Ertz will have to add strength if he wants to be an effective drive-blocker and a true asset in the run game.
He is competent in pass blocking, but he also seldom stayed in to pass protect, and with receiving skills like his, it is a waste to leave him in to pass protect.
With tight ends becoming more and more integral in passing games, Ertz's skills will not go unrecognized in this upcoming draft. He will be in strong consideration to be the first tight end off the board, and at this point, he is likely headed for the tail end of the first or early- to mid-second round.