2020 NFL draft: Evaluating the Eagles' record drafting tight ends


Ninth in a series grading the Eagles' premium-round draft picks over the last 40 years. Today: Tight ends. Tomorrow: Running backs.

1st Round

Keith Jackson (13th pick in 1988): Jackson only played four years for the Eagles before his landmark lawsuit granted him free agency and escape from Norman Braman. But in those four years he caught 242 passes for 2,756 yards and 20 TDs and made first-team all-pro three times and the Pro Bowl three times. He made a couple more Pro Bowls later in his career. His 81 catches in 1988 is still the NFL record for rookie tight ends.

Grade: A 

2nd Round

Lawrence Sampleton (47th pick in 1982): Sampleton was a top-50 pick but caught only three passes for 52 yards in three seasons with the Eagles. He finished his career with 11 catches. Only eight tight ends in NFL history drafted with a top-50 pick caught fewer.

Grade: F-minus

Jason Dunn (54th pick in 1996): Dunn’s career started out with promise. He had 164 yards in his first five games. Then he averaged about 10 yards per game the rest of his Eagles career. Dunn wound up playing 12 years in the NFL as a blocking tight end, but he didn’t last beyond three miserable seasons with the Eagles.

Grade: D-minus

L.J. Smith (61st pick in 2003): Smith had a few decent years, ranking 9th in the NFL in receiving yards from 2004 through 2006 and catching a Super Bowl touchdown. He was only 26 when he had his last decent year. His numbers were OK – he ranks sixth in Eagles history among tight ends in yards and catches. But you always felt like he could have done a lot more.

Grade: C 

Zach Ertz (35th pick in 2013): Ertz has 525 catches, most in NFL history by a tight end after seven seasons. He’s got three Pro Bowls and a game-winning catch in a Super Bowl. He’s averaged 86 catches the last five years. A few more seasons like that and he’ll be in the Hall of Fame conversation. An all-timer.

Grade: A 

Dallas Goedert (49th pick in 2018): Goedert blossomed into a top-10 tight end in his own right this past season, ranking 9th in the NFL with 58 catches – 5th-most in the entire league over the last 11 weeks. Along with solid blocking. Hasn’t been doing it long enough to get an A but he’s not far off.

Grade: B-plus

3rd Round

Greg LaFleur (82nd pick in 1981): Never played a snap in an Eagles uniform. He was released at the end of his rookie training camp, and he was quickly claimed by the Cards, where he played most of his six-year career. 

Grade: F-minus-minus

Vyto Kab (78th pick in 1982): One round after they took Sampleton, the Eagles took another tight end, and he didn’t do much better. Kab caught 31 passes in parts of four seasons with the Eagles. So they used their 2nd- and 3rd-round picks in 1982 on tight ends, and they caught a combined 34 passes as Eagles and 47 in their entire NFL careers. 

Grade: F

Final Grades

1st round: A
2nd round: C-plus
3rd round: F
Overall: B

For our previous installments, click here:

Defensive ends

Defensive tackles




Offensive Tackles

Interior Offensive Linemen


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