Eagles

NFL 2020 tight end rankings: Could Zach Ertz miss the top-four cut?

NFL 2020 tight end rankings: Could Zach Ertz miss the top-four cut?

Zach Ertz has been an elite pass-catching tight end basically since 2014, his second season with the Eagles. His size, route-running, and athleticism makes him a near-impossible matchup for defenses.

But Ertz turns 30 this November, and he has a TE1-in-waiting sitting behind him on the depth chart in Dallas Goedert. Is 2020 the year we see him take a step out of the elite tight end ranks?

The folks over at Pro Football Focus think, even if it's not a big step, Ertz won't be a top four tight end in the NFL this season. They projected receiving totals, and instead of Ertz rounding out the top four, as most would expect, they have...

Rob Gronkowski?

Yep:

There's a lot to take in here. Let's look at some things that aren't Ertz.

For one, Mark Andrews at No. 1 would be quite a jump for the third-year tight end. He's had two great seasons to start his career, but the Ravens aren't a pass-happy offense. I don't see the yards piling up like this.

The Raiders' Darren Waller had 1,145 yards last year. It's possible he's a one-year wonder, and it's likely rookie Henry Ruggs III sees Waller get fewer targets, but having Gronkowski over Waller is... odd.

As for Gronk, he hasn't played a 16-game season since 2011, and he went for just 682 yards in his most recent NFL season. Is he well-rested enough to return to 2017 form? Maybe. But with stud wideouts like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin available for Tom Brady, there likely aren't enough targets in Tampa Bay to push Gronk to 999 yards.

Now, for Ertz. Ertz has reached 999 yards in a season just once: 1,163 yards in 2018. He saw his yards number tumble last year, but the whole team really took a step back, and Dallas Goedert became more comfortable in the offense. Ertz is still a stud until proven otherwise, and I think he's still a top-four tight end. 

Of course, with rookie Jalen Reagor catching passes, Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson both ostensibly healthy, and Goedert continuing to grow, Ertz could either see his pass-catching opportunities get easier... or see his targets dry up. So it's not unthinkable that he finishes with, say, 825 yards in 2020.

But I certainly don't think he'll finish lower than a recently-unretired Gronk.

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Madden 21 ratings: Jalen Reagor, 2020 rookies receive first-ever overall ratings

Madden 21 ratings: Jalen Reagor, 2020 rookies receive first-ever overall ratings

EA Sports released ratings for the 2020 rookie class's offensive skill players this week, and Eagles fans should be pretty happy with where their guys landed, with only a few gripes.

First-round pick Jalen Reagor is a 73 overall, coming in as the fifth-ranked wideout. He's one point behind Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who was selected one spot behind Reagor and who will likely be compared to Reagor for at least the length of their respective rookie contracts.

Second-round pick Jalen Hurts, the selection that had (and maybe still has?) Eagles fans scratching their heads, is a 68 overall. He's Madden's fifth-ranked quarterback in the 2020 class, just two points behind Chargers first round pick Justin Herbert and three points behind Packers first round pick Jordan Love.

Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III and Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow both lead the way with 76 overall ratings.

Diving a bit deeper, I think Reagor's 79 catch rating is low, as is his 62 strength rating, and Hurts' 65 awareness is a bit rough. But otherwise, things feel about right.

Here's a breakdown of individual skill ratings for Reagor, Hurts, wide receiver John Hightower, and wide receiver Quez Watkins:

Jalen Reagor: 73

Speed: 93
Acceleration: 92
Strength: 62
Agility: 94
Awareness: 67
Catch: 79
Break Tackle: 75
Jump: 94

Jalen Hurts: 68

Speed: 86
Acceleration: 89
Strength: 72
Agility: 88
Awareness: 65
Throw Power: 84
Break Tackle: 75
Jump: 86

John Hightower: 68

Speed: 92
Acceleration: 89
Strength: 49
Agility: 85
Awareness: 65
Catch: 81
Break Tackle: 69
Jump: 90

Quez Watkins: 65

Speed: 94
Acceleration: 90
Strength: 41
Agility: 86
Awareness: 61
Catch: 80
Break Tackle: 74
Jump: 87

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NFL rumors: Everson Griffen seems interested in joining an NFC East contender

NFL rumors: Everson Griffen seems interested in joining an NFC East contender

Veteran pass rusher Everson Griffen had another solid year with the Vikings in 2019, making his fourth career Pro Bowl in his 10th season in Minnesota.

But heading into his second decade in the league, Griffen remains a free agent - and a possible Eagles target as Howie Roseman looks to bolster the pass rush.

And it's starting to sound like the interest goes both ways.

After a weekend of possible Jadeveon Clowney rumblings, Griffen took to Twitter on Sunday evening to tweet for the first time in two weeks. He responded to a tweet comparing himself to Clowney, and linking Griffen to... the Eagles.

Griffen's response was pretty telling:

Hmm.

A guy like Griffen, who's only tweeted 1,200 times in 10 years, chooses his tweets wisely, so this feels like a pretty clear message to GMs across the league, Roseman included.

The Eagles have been linked to Clowney, Griffen, and Yannick Ngakoue all offseason as they try to turn their defense into a unit that can straight up steal some games in 2020.

Jim Schwartz's defense tied for 13th in the league in sacks with 43 in 2019, a step up from 16th in 2018 but techincally a step down in volume from 44 in 2018.

Griffen rattled off 8.0 sacks in 2019, which would've been good for second on the Eagles, and has picked up at least 8.0 sacks in every season during which he's started at least 75% of his team's games.

Griffen, who turns 33 in December, is substantially older than Clowney and Ngakoue, but he's proven for years to be a reliable pass rusher who gets results. Plus, his age could bring the price down considerably, always a perk for Roseman.

It'll be interesting to see how things shake out, but it seems a partnership here would work.

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