Round Two: 35th Pick
A unanimous first team All-American as a junior, Zach Ertz became the primary target in the Stanford passing game this past season.
Many have labeled him as a better NFL prospect than former Cardinal teammate and 2012 second-round pick, Coby Fleener.
While he may not be the flashiest player, Ertz has the chance to make an impact at the next level as a dependable receiver. Can he, however, develop into the jack-of-all-trades tight end that plays three downs on a consistent basis?
|+ Reliable receiver with good hands and ball skills||- Limited blocker, must improve technique|
|+ Solid route runner, creates separation||- Not much of a threat after the catch|
|+ Underrated athlete, shows some quickness||- Relatively short 31.75" arms|
|+ Good size at 6'5" 244 pounds||- May not be viewed as a full-time tight end|
At 6’5” 244 pounds, Zach Ertz is built like an oversized wide receiver. Though lacking freakish physical qualities, he is an underrated athlete with some suddenness.
Thought of primarily as a receiving tight end, Ertz managed to throw up a solid 24 reps of 225 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine. He officially timed at 4.76 in the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, but reports from his pro day have him one-tenth of a second faster. Also at his pro day, he was able to increase his vertical by five inches to 35.5”.
In the interviews I have watched, Ertz appears to be a mature, down to earth individual. All signs indicate he is a solid locker room presence who gives a good effort on and off the field. Other than a minor knee injury that cost him three games in 2011, durability has not been an issue.
During his college career, Zach Ertz was exposed to a variety of formations and pro-style concepts. Stanford asks their tight ends to line up at several positions and occupy many roles. He gained experience in a traditional offense, but he was also utilized split wide or in the slot.
Zach Ertz has the size and enough quickness to beat press coverage when lined up wide. His release from the line of scrimmage is fairly fast, allowing him to eat up cushion and create separation. While it would be a stretch to call Ertz an explosive vertical threat, he gets downfield in a hurry and is quick to enter his routes.
A natural receiver equipped with impressive body control, Zach Ertz displays the ability to adjust to poorly thrown passes.
He tracks the ball extremely well, demonstrating coordination and good concentration. While his arms are relatively short, Ertz still possesses a wide catching radius and excels making plays outside his frame.
One of this class’ better route runners, Zach Ertz is capable of creating separation at every level of the field. He is able to run crisp routes, moving fluidly in and out of his breaks.
This aspect of his game appears to be fairly polished. He knows how to identify soft spots in zone coverage and establishes himself as a viable option even on broken plays.
At times, he flashes the ability to deceptively use his eyes or body to manipulate coverage.
His combination of size and reliability make him an ideal target in the red zone and on third downs. He frequently demonstrates the ability to make plays away from his body with ease. Also,Ertz possesses strong hands by pulling the ball down in traffic.
Still, when watching the tape, I cannot help but notice the occasional easy drop.
Run After Catch
Though he excels prior to the catch, Zach Ertz is not much of a threat with the ball in his hands. Lacking exceptional speed and elusiveness, he is unlikely to hurt defenses in this regard.
Ertz may not be particularly dynamic after the catch, but he does run with good balance, fighting for extra yardage and refusing to go down easily.
Watching Zach Ertz play, he seems much more in his element as a receiver as opposed to a blocker. He struggles to hold blocks and often appears physically outmatched.
Generally I have few gripes with his effort, but he leaves much to be desired as an in-line blocker. Additionally, he does not do a great job of finding blocks in space.
To develop into a complete NFL tight end, Ertz must continue to concentrate on refining his technique.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Ertz is slightly one-dimensional. He is a good, reliable receiver but should be complemented by a blocking TE at the next level. In ways he reminds me of the Ravens’ Dennis Pitta.
Do not be surprised if he falls further than most expect on draft day; he may not be the complete tight end teams look for in the first two rounds.
Draft Projection: Mid Second - Early Third Round