Tight End Totem
Options To Back Up Birds Star TE Dallas Goedert
Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert sits comfortably atop his positional hierarchy, seemingly increasing his national exposure with each passing season.
In the wake of a historic season, which nearly culminated in another confetti-plastered championship for the second time in five seasons, it was easy to gloss over the fact that Goedert – a crucial multi-faceted midrange weapon and perhaps the team’s most threatening red zone presence – was poised to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving barrier, joining wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.
On the heels of an admirable performance last February on the game’s biggest stage, Goedert, 28, appears motivated and eager for his chance at redemption, once again factoring prominently as a primary focal point of a high-octane passing attack.
Given his importance to the offense’s overall functionality, any and all potential reinforcements fall squarely under the microscope as training camp looms.
Before Dan Arnold’s late spring addition, the depth at the position hardly screamed camp battle, as holdovers Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra were clear favorites.
Sure, the 28-year-old Arnold brings an extensive resume – which includes stints with five different franchises – highlighted by receiving prowess, athleticism, and tantalizing positional versatility.
Arnold last season with the Jaguars managed just 135 yards on nine receptions over a 17-game slate, accounting for 15 percent of the offense’s total snap share. Comparatively, fellow tight end Chris Manhertz – a blocking reserve – totaled 38 percent of snaps.
Perhaps it’s been blocking deficiencies or lack of a refined skill set that’s kept Arnold on the fringes of rosters throughout his career and likely rendered him an afterthought in free agency.
Because of similar skills to Grant Calcaterra, it is conceivable to envision Calcaterra as Arnold’s main obstruction to contending for a roster spot.
But Calcaterra, 24, would appear to have youth, upside, and investment working in his favor.
Drafted in the sixth round in 2o22, 198th overall, Calcaterra arrived in Philadelphia to little fanfare.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end, who briefly retired and opted to pursue a career as a firefighter following the 2019 season after enduring multiple concussions, ultimately returned to the gridiron for the 2021 season, recording a career-high in receiving yards (465).
It was likely Calcaterra’s athleticism and receiving acumen that propelled his impressive roster push and precluded him from becoming a late-summer casualty.
Used sparingly as a rookie, Calcaterra appeared in 15 games, totaling 81 yards on five receptions.
His prospects of seizing control of the presumed third spot on the depth chart in his second season should hardly be considered a foregone conclusion, but Calcaterra – a traits-dominant prospect – seemingly renders Arnold’s practicality as redundant.
Both players offer little in terms of special teams contributions, but because Calcaterra was drafted, the Eagles would probably give the nod to the former draft pick.
The team also has little allegiance or investment in Arnold, while Calcaterra has logged a year honing his craft under tight ends coach Jason Michael. For those reasons, Calcaterra enters camp as the odds-on favorite.
Apart from Goedert, Jack Stoll – who has somehow become a perennial afterthought – should be penciled in when turning in your 53-man roster projections.
What the third-year tight end lacks in receiving prowess – in 33 games, Stoll’s resume reads 15 receptions for 145 yards – the Nebraska product more than compenstes with physicality at the point of attack, tenacity, and selflessness.
While Goedert is ascending to among the elite at his position, the 25-year-old Stoll has operated in relative anonymity through his two seasons of service, willingly assuming the dirty work as a blocker and making the occasional catch when the ball comes his way.
While his role lacks glamour, and while he offers mimimal upside as a receiver, every team needs a player of Stoll’s mold. And until a player comes along with a more well-rounded skill set to threaten Stoll’s standing, Stoll figures to have job security.
“I just think as you look at the tight end room, no matter where you are, you’re trying to find guys with different roles,” Michael told Inside The Birds at the Super Bowl. “It’s a position that’s evolved over the years, especially more late. There’s so many different types; you got the Y blocking type, you got the receiver, and then you got all those guys in between.
“I always say tight end is the second hardest position to play because you’re playing offensive line, you’re playing running back, you’re playing wide receiver. You’re doing it in a right-handed stance, left-handed stance, movin’ all around. So, the intelligence has gotta be there, to be able to play, and adapt and play different roles and different positions.
“I think it just speaks a lot of Jack, how he’s been able to handle that mentally, and then the physical part of being able to do it.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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