Ranking the Eagles Tight Ends and H-Backs

June 6, 2013 in Philadelphia Eagles

In the coming weeks I will do a series of posts on the Philadelphia Eagles and how their players stack up at each position. These Tiers are an indication of what talent level can reasonably be expected of each player for the 2013 season. Future potential and contract status are not really taken into consideration, as this is more an indication of a players talent level and expected production.

Rankings: Quarterbacks | Running backs

Tier 1:

Description: Top level starter, at elite or near elite level, absolute lock to both make the team and start. Won't face any competition for his job.

None:

Tier 2:

Description: Quality starter who may have some minor struggles in a given year, but overall is a good football player. Typically just outside the elite/near elite level. Should both easily make the team and start. Will be one of the key players on the team.

Brent Celek:

-Celek could possibly make a case for being at the bottom of Tier 1, as he's proven to be a consistent receiving threat. Since he became a fulltime starter in 2009, Celek has averaged over 59 catches, 744 yards and 4 catches a season, with an average of 12.56 yards per catch. Those are pretty good numbers, especially considering he's had to deal with multiple different starters, and of course this past year where the entire offense fell apart. Celek isn't a guy who is going to put up consistently elite numbers, but if given enough opportunities he should produce. Celek works extremely well in the short-to-intermediate area and can pose a lot of problems for linebackers. He's not a great blocker, but is passable in the area. The real question is how will he be utilized in the Eagles new scheme. Chip Kelly sounds committed to utilizing his tight ends, but it sounds like Celek may be the primary blocker so his targets could end up going down.

Zach Ertz:

-Ertz was the number two tight end in the draft, and was seen as the best natural receiver after catching 69 passes for 898 yards and 6 touchdowns this past season. Ertz has good hands and gets nice separation with his routes, but his blocking is a major liability. To account for that Ertz will likely play a more limited role and will typically be used in more passing situations, especially when they can split him out wide and try to create mismatches. Ertz could possibly end up with more targets than Celek as a rookie (though Celek will play more), and should make a nice impact as a rookie.

Projecting the Eagles Rookie Class

Tier 3:

Description: Passable starter, can play the position and be okay, but won't consistently play at a high level. Will be streaky throughout the season and over the course of many seasons. Depending on position would be better served as a good role player, or would be the best reserve player at a position. Should make the team, though not a lock and should face competition for a starting job.

James Casey:

-Casey actually started his professional career as a baseball player in the White Sox organization, before leaving baseball to go back to football. He quickly became an impact player at Rice, and while his primary position was listed at tight end, he lined up all over the field. His sophomore year was his final one at the collegiate level and he had 111 receptions for 1,329 yards and 13 TD's. In addition he added another 241 yards and 6 TD's on 57 carries. Casey showed that same versatility at the NFL level, playing both tight end and fullback for the Texans. In addition to those primary roles, Casey has the ability to line up in more of an H-back role or as a tight end who can split out wide. This versatility should play up nicely in Chip Kelly's offense, and should help keep Casey on the field. Casey may not get the level of targets of Celek and Ertz, but he should get a solid amount and be effective with them. He's not a devastating blocker, but he should help in this area for the Eagles as well.

Tier 4:

Description: Replacement level starter. This is a guy who could start in a pinch or as a long-term injury replacement but will max out as an average starter, and will probably be below average. He's a guy who could be okay as a short term filler, but over an extended period will struggle. Depending on position could be a solid player, or would be a good back-up. Has a decent chance to make the team, and could get a look at a starting job, but nothing is set in stone for him.

 None:

Tier 5:

Description: Solid back-up caliber player. Shouldn't really ever start, and would be below average in that capacity, but can be a short term injury replacement. Shouldn't even be much of a role player depending on the position, their best value is in their reliability as a replacement. Depending on the position, should be capable of backing up multiple positions or roles to increase their value. Has a chance to make the team, but really shouldn't be considered a starting option at all.

Clay Harbor: 

-Harbor was drafted by the Eagles in the 4th round of the 2010 draft from Missouri State. After an impressive career in college and good measureables, big things were expected by Harbor. Thus far he's underachieved as he has just 47 catches for 421 yards in his Eagles career. He's been solid as a blocker and has flashed at times as a receiver, but at this point he's still a back-up caliber guy. The Eagles used him one day during OTA's at linebacker, but that seemed to be just a way to add a little versatility. Harbor is a TE, but will be buried on the Eagles depth chart.

Emil Igwenagu:

-Igwenagu was an undrafted free agent out of UMass that the Eagles signed in 2012. During a promising camp and preseason, Igwenagu did enough to earn a practice squad spot. Late in the season Igwenagu was called up to the active roster, and logged in 36 snaps. He has a little potential though is really still a developmental guy. He could fit this offense better given that he works better in an H-back role. It could be tough cracking a roster spot this year, but with a big camp he could do just that.

 

Tier 6:

Description: Replacement level player. Not considered at all for a starting role, and isn't even considered a viable back-up. Really only has a shot to make the team if injuries thin out the competition. Overall has a poor chance to make a roster, and is a player who will likely be replaced during the season.

Will Shaw:

-Shaw is an undrafted rookie free agent out of Youngstown State trying to make the Eagles as a back-up H-back. He's a purely developmental guy, who will need a big camp to even have a shot on the practice squad.

Derek Carrier:

-Carrier was a college free agent in 2012 out of Wisconsin-Beloit, originally signed by the Oakland Raiders. After he was released by them the Eagles picked him up and assigned him to their practice squad. He was a receiver in college so this is still a transition to the tight end spot. The hope is he will develop as a "joker" tight end and create mismatches versus linebackers. He will once again be buried on the depth chart and is more likely to end up back on the practice squad.