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Memo to Self: Eagles need depth at Tight End…

Dear Diary:

On the eve of the 2012 Draft, my fellow Eagles fans are obsessed with linebackers and safeties and defensive line guys… but few seem to share my concern over the Tight End position…

It bothers me that the last few seasons have been devoted to the Great Florida Hope—i.e., Cornelius Ingram— coming back to health and creating the safety net we need at TE…

Meanwhile Brandon Pettigrew has been tearing it up in Detroit. I’m not saying we should have drafted Pettigrew ahead of Jeremy Maclin a few short years ago…I like Maclin. And I like Celek.

But due to the sad ending of Ingram’s dream, a cruel knee-injury fate which could not be fixed, we must move on…

And the very real scenario of a Brent Celek knocked out by a serious injury for a number of games leaves us with a “go to” solution of Clay Harbor and ?…. I’m guessing by now the Eagles organization has studied the current trend of having two talented Tight Ends in the offensive rotation at all times. Heck, Gronkowski and Hernandez at New England are just the tip of the iceberg.  The NFL is quietly transforming the traditional position of fullback on offense into a hybrid tight end/tailback thing…  

Here’s what we have to deal with in current TE personnel:

Brent-Celek-150x132
Brent Celek, starting TE… coming off a nice year with an upsurge in receiving…good blocker, too…6-4, 255, 6th year out of Cincinnati…

Clay-Harbor-150x150
Clay Harbor, the back-up TE… he showed flashes of route-running and catching ability, but seemed to disappear at times in the offensive game plan…6-3, 252, 3rd year out of Missouri State…

brettbrackett
Brett Brackett, the Practice Squad TE… Undrafted Free Agent from Penn State last year, 6-5, 248, Brackett spent time on several NFL practice squads last season before signing on with the Eagles in late November 2011… His career at Penn State included 55 catches for 721 yards and 7 TD’s…

That’s what we have at TE right now. We don’t have a master plan to involve the tight ends more into the Eagles offense other than the “Next Man Up” contingency rotation portrayed above.

So forgive me, dear diary, but I’m feeling a little undermanned at the position going into the 2012 season…

Maybe the remedy to my insecurity at the position is to draft a tight end in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft this Spring?

But that would go against most mock drafts right now which have us taking everything but a tight end. Maybe a lot of mockers are still gun-shy from the disastrous pick of Ingram a couple of years back.  It is obvious now that Ingram was damaged goods from the get-go.  I certainly was one who bought into his overall potential and the optimistic medical reports on his knee rehab coming out of college. I was “gung ho” on Ingram.  And I turned out to be wrong.

So far be it from me to discredit anyone who says drafting a tight end in the mid-to-later rounds this year is a waste of time and money.

But the fact remains, the Eagles need to build for the not-so-distant future at this key position.

At the very least, we need depth. You may not end up integrating two TE’s into your basic offense like Brady and the Pats have done, but you need at least two extremely athletic and smart backups in the system in case Celek goes down.

Here’s a guy you may want to keep an eye on: Michael Egnew, 6-6, 245, Missouri… he could still be available by the 4th round pick of the Eagles….

Michael Egnew is not a household name in college football, but he brings a lot of the physical credentials and the intangibles that I associate with great Eagles tight ends of the past…so yes, I am biased… Egnew can block, and he can run routes and catch the ball… He’s an All-American selection, too… in 2011, he caught 50 passes for 523 yards and 3 TD’s…his career totals: 147 receptions for 1332 yards and 8 TD’s.

Maybe I’m just projecting my own love of great tight end play, but I hope the Eagles grab Egnew in the 4th round (if he is still available) as their TE of the future, as opposed to reaching for another position based on current assessment of developmental need.  The tight end position is just as critical to Eagles future success as linebacker and safety. The tight end position’s importance in every NFL offense is still evolving. I think it’s time to shake off the heebie-jeebies associated with the Cornelius Ingram debacle and get back to work building a future for the TE position in Philadelphia.

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.

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