Dallas Goedert was training for the NFL scouting combine when the Eagles beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII in February.
Goedert, a second-round pick out of South Dakota State, enjoyed the drama-packed game, and in particular the tight end play.
Zach Ertz of the Eagles and Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots took over in the second half. Ertz hauled in the game-winning touchdown pass, a red zone rope from Nick Foles. Gronkowski, after just one catch in the first half, finished with nine receptions for 116 yards and two TDs.
Add Travis Kelce of Kansas City to the group, and there are your top three NFL tight ends, according to Goedert.
When Goedert, Ertz and the Eagles oppose the Patriots in Week 2 of the preseason Thursday at Gillette Stadium (7:30 p.m., Channel 10, WIP 94.1-FM), even the warmup could get interesting, for Gronkowski is almost as revered by Patriots fans as Tom Brady.
“He’s been so dominant,” Goedert said of Gronkowski. “Nobody can dog him. He’s great in the run game. He’s been the best tight end in the league, or one of the best for the last how many ever years. I might tag along if some of the other tight ends go talk to him. It would be pretty cool to talk to him.”
Goedert (6-4, 260) is coming off a solid debut against the Steelers, as he caught four passes for 66 yards and a touchdown from Nate Sudfeld, who, after Foles starts, will work into the Patriots game in the second quarter.
Except for an early drop in the preseason opener, Goedert was solid in both the pass and the run game.
Goedert alertly gave the scrambling Sudfeld a target by sitting down in the end zone for a 15-yard score.
Goedert also made some smart blocks freeing Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood for yardage, and another to pick up a blitz.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better with the catches,” Goedert said. “And in the run game, too. I felt like I did a good job in the run game. So, it was a lot of fun. But obviously during the season teams won’t be as vanilla with their defense. They’ll bring stuff at me that I’ve never seen.”
Ertz was almost unstoppable when the Eagles needed big plays in the playoffs. No Eagles receiver got open as efficiently as Ertz.
Gronkowski (6-6, 265), on the other hand, is a matchup nightmare for the opposition based on his sheer size and power. His celebratory spike has topped out at around 50 feet into the sky.
“It’s his signature,” Goedert said. “I saw some of the other tight ends doing that in the preseason. I don’t know if I’ll take that from him. It’s kind of his deal. I don’t have a deal yet. I’m kind of waiting for the regular season. Once that comes around, I’ll decide what I want to do then. There’s a good chance I’ll have something.”
Goedert still is getting used to the passion of Eagles fans. Shortly after he was drafted, some offered to start a Go Fund Me account in the hope he would change his first name, which reminded them of their NFC East rivals. This past week, Goedert chuckled when rumors surfaced that he’d broken his arm. He’s fine.
“I hope that if I play well enough they’ll accept me a little bit more,” Goedert said. “There’s still a few people (who want him to change his name). But a lot of them have gone away from it.”
With Ertz doing his thing, Goedert will have to improve his blocking if he wants to be a factor in the offense. Right now, the Eagles likely will use veteran tight end Richard Rodgers in the blocking role that previously belonged to Brent Celek, who was released.
Then again, blocking — as Doug Pederson says — is about wanting to. And Goedert wants to get on the field. The Eagles could use him in-line or possibly in a Greg Olsen type of role, splitting him out. But first, there’s a chance to share the field with Ertz and Gronk.
“Being a tight end in the league with them now is pretty cool,” Goedert said. “If (Gronk) plays at all it will be fun to watch just like it’s been fun to watch him throughout the years.”