It’s still really early in his NFL career, but rookie Dallas Goedert has already turned plenty of heads during his first spring with the Eagles.
The rookie tight end from South Dakota State is big, he’s strong, he uses his body well and he has a knack for making spectacular plays, often in tight windows.
In other words, this kid has a chance to be dynamic in the red zone.
“If you’re tall and have long arms and can catch the ball, that’s always a good thing in the red zone,” Eagles tight ends coach Justin Peelle said with a smile earlier this week.
Let’s take a second to think about it. Goedert, the 49th pick in the draft, is already the Eagles’ No. 2 tight end, and we know how much Doug Pederson likes to use two-tight end sets. So he’s going to be on the field a lot, especially in the red zone.
Goedert is 6-foot-5 and weighs 256 pounds. But more importantly, he knows how to use that size. He also has the ability to catch the ball. His college position coach, after the draft, gushed over Goedert’s play-making ability (see story).
It’s not hard to see why.
“Catching the ball is one of the reasons we drafted him,” Peelle said. “He’s got phenomenal hands, he’s got great body control. Yes, that is obviously a strength of his. He’s made a couple catches out here. Once we get into live games, put the pads on, where the defense is (facing him) I wouldn’t expect that to change. He’s always had good hand-eye coordination.”
The other part of this is that Goedert is going to have the opportunity. He’s going to see a lot of 1-on-1 coverage against linebackers in the red zone and they’re not going to be able to cover him.
Think about this: When the Eagles are in the red zone, they have Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor and one of their dynamic running backs. Any and all of those players are going to warrant extra attention. That should be huge for Goedert and will allow him to vulture some touchdowns.
This obviously isn’t great news for fantasy football owners. Then again, the Eagles simply don’t make fantasy football easy. They’re too balanced. But Goedert might be worth a mid- to late-round pick. Don’t expect double digits, but he should pull in some touchdowns.
So what’s realistic?
Well, the most touchdown catches ever for a rookie tight end was Mike Ditka’s 12 back in 1961. More recently, Rob Gronkowski had 10 as a rookie in 2010.
In the last 10 years, Gronk led the way for rookie tight ends with 10 touchdown catches, followed by Hunter Henry with 8, Evan Engram and O.J. Howard with 6, John Carlson with 5 and four players (Ertz, Martellus Bennett, Jermaine Gresham, David Njoku) with 4.
After catching 18 touchdowns in his last two college seasons — at a lower level of competition but also as the No. 1 target — Goedert should be able to get around five or six touchdowns as a rookie. If he does, that would be huge.
“He detailed the routes, he had great hands,” head coach Doug Peterson said. “He's a big target, made some plays in the red zone last week [and] making some plays this week.”
Now, we’ll see if he can make them when the games come. It’s still really early, but I have a suspicion he will.