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NFL Draft 2013 – Tight End Prospect Zach Ertz – Stanford

February 23rd, 2013 at 10:38 PM
By Mark Mihalko

After listening to general manager discuss the Pittsburgh Steelers stance on tight end Heath Miller’s prognosis, it is definitely one of the variables to consider this offseason. Colbert does not expect Miller to be ready early in 2013, after undergoing ACL/MCL surgery on his knee in December. In fact, if you listened to Colbert, the teams’ 2012 MVP may not be ready until December.

'IMG_3379' photo (c) 2006, Eric Chan - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Of course, ACL recovery is based on the player. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson recorded one of the greatest season ever less than a year after a devastating knee injury. However, as Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall proved, that is not always the case.

With the NFL Combine in full swing, prospects continue to rise and fall. One player that solidified his position is Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert. As we projected with his draft profile, the 6-5, 250-pound tight end was impressive with a 4.6 40-yard dash and 22 reps at 225. While those numbers are impressive, he may not have totally separated himself from his closest competition to be the first tight end off the board, Stanford prospect Zach Ertz.

Ertz may not have the same resume as Eifert, but the two players have similar builds and abilities. The 6-6, 252-pound tight end has a solid frame and has experience in-line and as a moveable tight end. On tape, he demonstrated very good hands and does a great job at catching the ball on the run. While he does not possess blazing speed, timed 4.72 40-yard dash at the combine, he is a fluid athlete as a receiver and has the ability to run any route. Those numbers backed up his productive 2012 campaign where he recorded 69 catches for 898 yards and six touchdowns.

Yes, at times he may round some things off, but his ability to find a soft spot in zone coverage more than makes up for that. He is a high effort blocker who is still a work in progress in-line but showed improvement throughout his career, and with 24 reps at 225 has the functional strength for the position. Coming from Stanford and their pro style system, Ertz has the ability to pay dividends for some team in 2013 even if his arms length was slightly below average. He has a strong combination of skills that will make him appealing to a team searching for an attack the seam playmaker at the tight end position.

We at Steelers 101 have touched on this worst-case scenario much of the offseason to this point, projecting the team to take a playmaking receiver of some type with their first round selection. Now hearing Colbert’s outlook, we believe that more than ever. Does it have to be a tight end? No, a explosive slot receiver would fit the bill as well, but at this point, neither positions should be off the table. 

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Tags: Football, Heath Miller, NFL, NFL Draft, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers, Stanford, Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz

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