Would the Seahawks draft Zach Ertz?

The more I watch of Zach Ertz, the more impressed I become. It’s not that he’s a physical freak of a tight end like Jimmy Graham. He’s not going to enter the league and dominate like Rob Gronkowski. What he is going to do is provide excellent run blocking qualities with the ability to make key, consistent catches.

Without a big-name receiver expected to go in the top ten next April, we could see a player like Ertz move swiftly up the boards. Teams like Miami and St. Louis need to build around their quarterbacks and find some weapons. Ertz isn’t going to offer a Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green type of aid, but he will provide a safety net while his run blocking will keep him on the field for any play call. The Rams in particular make a lot of sense here. With two first round picks in 2013 and 2014 following the RGIII trade, the Rams could theoretically draft a left tackle (Luke Joeckel?) and Zach Ertz within the top fifteen picks. And that would make a lot of sense.

Ultimately his stock will be judged by how much of a difference maker he can be. As nice as a good run blocking tight end can be, nothing compensates for difference making ability in the passing game. It helps that Ertz lines up all over the field – split out wide, in the slot – and he’s shown the ability to create separation and make plays. For the year he has 818 yards and six touchdowns – both team highs. In fact he has more than double the number of catches, yardage and touchdowns to the second most productive pass catcher at Stanford – fellow tight end Levine Toilolo. But he needs to prove he has what it takes to repeat this production at the next level. Teams will want to see how he tests at the combine, as the position itself is largely defined by athleticism and size.

So what about the Seahawks? Although the tight ends in Seattle haven’t featured much in terms of receptions, they have actually played a pretty significant role under Pete Carroll. While the more modern day tight end is being asked to run routes rather than pass protect, the Seahawks aren’t running a particularly modern offense. They want to run the ball, they want to protect the quarterback and limit turnovers. Carroll also seemingly wants to make quick strikes in the passing game as a compliment to the run. Unless you do find that dynamic downfield tight end, it’s pretty difficult to find a home-run hitting player at the position.

They do run a lot of play action though and the tight end’s production might increase as young quarterback Russell Wilson becomes more familiar with the system. Already in recent weeks Zach Miller has seen his number of targets rise. In the last three games, Wilson has thrown at Miller 14 times. In the first three games of the season, he had just eight looks. As things open up, Miller’s role could increase further.

Miller’s presence on the roster also has to be taken into consideration when considering the draft. According to Sportrac, he’s set to take up $11m of cap space in 2013. Whether that sum is negotiated down in the off-season remains to be seen, but it makes any further big investments at the tight end position a bit of a luxury. It is also worth considering the teams pursuit of Kellen Winslow though – and clearly they were open to the idea of adding another tight end who can factor into the passing game. Likewise, they’ve tried to get Anthony McCoy more involved with inconsistent results so far. If they believed they could split Ertz into different positions to create mismatches and if they felt he was enough of a difference maker he could be an option. As with the teams in the early first round – if Ertz lasts to the Seahawks pick, he might be a more favourable pick-up than any of the receivers.

Of course there’s always the counter suggestion of ‘waiting’ given the investment in Miller. The Seahawks don’t desperately need a tight end. They could theoretically wait to draft a Gavin Escobar out of San Diego State for example – a player with the kind of athletic potential to be a productive pass-catcher if not a great run blocker.

Even so, I sense Ertz is one to watch. The Seahawks apparently showed a fair amount of interest in another Stanford tight end in Coby Fleener, as noted by Eric Williams here. Ertz is a more rounded prospect and certainly a more attractive run blocker for me – and that could appeal more than anything to Seattle’s front office. There are no character issues and he’s quite a mature and grounded individual, unlike some of the receivers eligible for 2013. If he lasts until the Seahawks pick, he could be on the radar next April.

Receiver watch

Elsewhere today….

Cordarrelle Patterson possibly played his last game for Tennessee in a win over Kentucky. He led the Vols with 88 receiving yards and scored this touchdown. He also added 38 rushing yards from two carries and totalled 32 return yards. He has a lot of strings to his bow and will be a playmaker at the next level. The question is, can he mature and find a level of consistency?

Brandon Coleman at Rutgers only had one reception in a 27-6 defeat to Pittsburgh. Thankfully, it was an 11 yard score which you can see by clicking here. Coleman’s production has been mediocre, but his upside and potential is off the charts. The Seahawks have had scouts at multiple Rutgers games this year.

Markus Wheaton had another productive day for Oregon State, this time against rivals Oregon. Despite losing the game, Wheaton recorded 98 yards from seven receptions. He’s flying under the radar and warrants much more hype.

DeAndre Hopkins had one catch against South Carolina – a 43 yard touchdown. Click here to see it. Few players have Hopkins’ level of control, catching ability in traffic and smooth route running. Like Wheaton, he deserves more hype.

And finally…

Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree did this today. I’ll be watching the Georgia Tech vs Georgia tape on Sunday.


  1. John

    I watched Ertz in the Oregon game and immediately thought, younger, cheaper Zach Miller. If he falls to us, I’d take him. Miller is good, and he has been getting better now that Wilson is growing, but Miller is aging and is expensive. Drafting Ertz could give us leverage moving forward.

    And Rob, I saw that Ogletree hit live. It was sick. The game was getting intense and emotions were high. I can promise that was not the only big hit that game. But to my question, I also watched Florida/Florida State, and it got me back to thinking about Werner. Do you think he’ll slide? Early in the year he seemed like a top-10 lock to me, but his production has slipped. If he does slide, will Seattle pull the trigger? I mean, he flashes JJ Watt ability, but I’m not sure he fits what Seattle is trying to do. I know you’d want Seattle to go Ogletree if we drafted defense, but I’m curious about your take on Werner now that we’ve come close to the end of the college season.


    Everyone should read that and feel good. Jaws was one of the biggest Anti-Wilson analysts (along with Dilfer) early this year. Second and Third questions are all Wilson.

    • Rob Staton

      Werner concerns me a little because he’s lost the weight and lost some of the sheer strength he flashed last year. J.J. Watt isn’t a speed rusher, and neither was Bjoern Werner. And he lost weight to try and become a speed rusher. He’s had a ton of production against weak schools and hardly anything against the better teams this year. The 2011 version of Werner doesn’t really fit this scheme because he’s not a LEO and more of a 3-4 end. The 2012 version of Werner does fit Seattle more but I just don’t think you draft him to play LEO or the speed rush role. I’d love to see him regain some muscle in the upper body, leave a little straight line speed on the table and try to max out his potential. J.J. Watt ran a 4.81 at the combine with a 1.64 split. Werner won’t run a fast enough time to make his weight loss worthwhile.

      Having said that, he had what – four sacks against Florida? I have the tape from that game to watch this week, so maybe I’ll switch my opinion after viewing that game.

  2. Aaron

    Rob, what do you think about UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria as a draft prospect for the Seahawks? He just came across my radar screen in the last few weeks. I believe he’s 6’7 and has a bunch of touchdowns. I heard one announcer say he’s been spectacular for the Bruins this year. Do you think the Hawks would have to use their first round pick in order to get him?

    • Rob Staton

      He’s had a ton of production these last few weeks and he had a nice score against Stanford. He’s a player I want to see more of – he wasn’t really involved vs Stanford apart from the score. I’m not sure he’s a first rounder but certainly he’s athletic with red zone potential at 6-7 so he’s one we need to look at in terms of maybe rounds 2-4.

      • Phil

        I was a big fan of his father (Christian Fauria) who — for you Seahawk newbies — played TE for 7 years for the Seahawks. Joseph is taller than his Dad and in the games I have watched this year, he seems to be able to catch just about anything thrown his way. But, the Bruins don’t emphasize the TE like Stanford does (not many teams do) so I don’t recall instances where he has been asked to show his speed or pure athletic ability. He does seem to be a competent run blocker. I’ll be interested to see how he does at the combine, but at this point, I don’t see him as a first round pick.

        • Seahawcla

          UCLA diehard here…

          Fauria is not a great blocker, but he has great hands, size and athleticism. He would be a great addition for what they were looking for from Winslow and Moore.

          The UCLA player I want on the Hawks radar is Anthony Barr, physically a freak out there.

          • Rob Staton

            One of the guys has done an Anthony Barr game tape video, I’m putting it on the blog soon. Thanks for the info on the UCLA prospects.

          • Phil

            UCLA grad and diehard also …

            Why isn’t there more buzz about Jonathan Franklin? He’s not only a great runner, but he’s a good receiver an a competent pass protector. I realize that the Seahawks don’t need another RB, but some other team is going to get him at a bargain price ….

            On Fauria, I agree he’s got great hands and size. But, I haven’t seen him show the freakish combination of speed/quickness that the Stanford TEs have, or Coby Fleener has, or Gronkowski has. Maybe he’s got it, but he hasn’t been asked to run the seam routes and others where he can show it.

  3. Ralphy

    Nice work with the linked highlights Rob. I love being able to see those and not having any ads in the way.

  4. kevin mullen

    An Ertz-Miller combo would be the ideal dual threat, grant it they can lower his cap space.

    Might be as good as NE’s Gronk/Hernandez duo, which I’m sure would give plenty of headaches for defenses throughout the league, pair with Marshawn (which NE doesn’t have) could potentially lead to a very dangerous offense. I’m getting chills…

  5. adog

    Maybe i’m seeing it a bit skewed since TE might be the closest position to a “need” that the seahawks have, but it seems to be a deep draft for TEnds. This might be a good sign to not reach for one in the first two rounds. I think it’s very likely that the Seahawks can grab one in rounds 3-6 that is similar in skill set and potential of any they can grab in round 1. Ertz is good, but not exceptional. It’s harder to find a good DL in the draft, so i hope they focus there in the early rounds, and perhaps WR in round 2. I was all for drafting TE in the first two rounds, but the more i have looked at the this class, the deeper it gets. It is a sort of luxury position(so far) in the Darrell Bevell offense, as in they would rather have one that can block well than catch the ball.

    • Rob Staton

      It’s a fair point you make. FWIW – I think Ertz will be off the board before Seattle picks.

    • kevin mullen

      Sometimes the BEST defense IS a good offense, if the ‘Hawks offense are able to stay on field (win that TOP, 2:1) mediocre defensive players become great players. I agree that TE isn’t necessarily a need but creating mismatches can make this offense a greater threat, and resting this top10 defense. If the BPA is Ertz, without a question we should pull the trigger.

      • adog

        I think if the hawks draft BPA…then it will most l likely be a d.lineman…maybe one of the Williams from NC or Alabama.

        • kevin mullen

          I think you’re missing the point of the argument, if Ertz is on the board when the ‘Hawks pick, the appeal of a game-changing TE would be hard to pass regardless whatever DL available. You mentioned a deep draft regarding WR, well it’s even deeper at DL.

          With Branch and Jones on 1yr contracts, I’d be very surprised that not one but both be resigned. Both have played very well and warrant resigning, which in my opinion, would be better than reaching for 4th or 5th best DLineman by the time ‘Hawks pick in the first round.

          • adog

            I just don’t see them drafting a TE in the first round. i had the same sentiment even before the game in Miami. Unless they change their offense, a game changer at Tight End makes no difference to this team. They are fine with McCoy at that position in my opinion. I would argue that this DL class is the deepest of any position in the draft, so a 4th or 5th bpa at that position is good enough to help win some of these games on the road. Is Ertz better than Z. Miller? i doubt that, and for all he’s worth, Miller is far from a game changer.

            • Michael

              Ya, a “cheaper version of Miller” is great because it opens up money to re-sign younger guys (Chancellor, ET, Sherman eventually…) but I don’t know if that is worth a first round pick.

  6. MJ

    My goodness…Ogletree is my dream pick this year.

  7. MJ

    IMO, Ertz is the perfect TE for today’s NFL. Good speed, good blocking, dependable receiver that’s not just a 8 yard possession guy. Outside of Geonk and V Davis, every one of those guys are one dimensional. With Ertz and Miller, you could live in 2 TE sets and never be predictable. Would be amazing for a young QB.

    That said, I’d still go with Ogletree. Hate to say it, but KJ Wright doesn’t look good on 3rd down. Ogletree and Wagner would be great for passing downs.

    • Michael

      I would love Ogletree also…

      He seems to have something that K.J. and Wagner just don’t. That hit highlighted by Rob was something I have never seen from our current LB corps, and while it would probably draw a flag in Goodell’s cuddly new version of the NFL, it is something that would fit perfectly in this D and is something that no team can have too much of.

  8. Michael (CLT)

    Defense is much more dire than the offense at this point. Ugh.

  9. dave

    Micheal has it right. I can’t believe I am about to say this, but as of right now, I’m more confident in our offense then our defense. Ertz would be great, but I think another solid coverage LB or DL needs to be our top priority.

  10. Stuart

    Rob, ever since you introduced us to the TE “Escobar” in the second round, I have felt great interest in him as a Seahawk. As a mock draft adict I have not seen Escobar mocked earlier than round 4. This is good for the Seahawks in that he is not well known, yet. Is it possible he could last until our pick in the third round?

    • Rob Staton

      Possibly… after all, Jimmy Graham lasted. Michael Egnew lasted. So I think he could do to. It’s really down to how much you like a guy and whether you’re willing to risk it.

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