The Eagles's first pick of the second round, 35th overall, showed us what new coach Chip Kelly thinks he needs to run his offense in the NFL. No, not a quarterback. The Eagles, who already signed James Casey from the Texans in free agency, went for a tight end-H-back, the NFL's new sexy offensive position, in Stanford's Zach Ertz.
Ertz, 6-5, 249, was considered a possible first-rounder before the draft. He gives Michael Vick (or Nick Foles, or whomever) an imposing, explosive red zone target. He is not known as a strong blocker, but these days that almost seems an outmoded skill at TE in the NFL.
The Jaguars took an Eagles fan favorite, Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien, with the first pick of the second round, 33rd overall. Then Tennessee traded up to San Francisco's 34th overall pick for WR Justin Hunter, from Tennessee.
This left a solid field of well-known players for the Eagles at 35, including West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and Alabama defensive lineman Jesse Williams, along with several safeties and corners the Birds certainly could have taken.
But Eagles coach Chip Kelly told reporters at NovaCare Ertz was the highest-rated player on the Birds' board when the second round began, ahead of Cyprien or Hunter.
"Unfortunately, I know Zach personally. He caught the tying touchdown pass against us last year in our one loss, to Stanford," Kelly, the former Oregon coach, said. Ertz's TD tied the game, which Stanford won in OT. Ertz caught 11 passes in that game.
Kelly and the Ducks thought the tying catch was not a catch. Kelly and Ertz carried on a dialogue about this during the draft process, starting at the NFL Scouting Combine.
"When I first walked in to the meeting room with them, he asked if it as a catch. I said 'of course it was a catch,' " Eertz told reporters on a conference call. He acknowledged sending Kelly a hanswritten thank you note after the combine, with a PS affirming the catch.
Kelly said when he got Ertz on the phone Friday night, Kelly told him he guessed they'd have to agree now that it was a catch.
Kelly and Ertz talked about mismatches and stretching the field.
"I thi9nk the Eagles are the perfect spot for me," he said.