PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles have more talent in their tight end room than perhaps any other team in the NFL.
The kiss-and-make-up with Zach Ertz ensures a franchise great remains in tow for the 2021 season and Dallas Goedert is regarded as one of the better two-way TEs in the sport.
From there, you might have the developmental equivalent of a Jordan Mailata-like ceiling in the lengthy Tyree Jackson, and a positional coach like Jason Michael who Nick Sirianni described as the best in the NFL.
Philadelphia’s TE group is filled with knowledge, talent, and experience so much so that the very capable Richard Rodgers is out of the mix, at least for the time being.
Over in the corner of that TE room, however, is Jack Stoll, the undrafted rookie out of Nebraska who played the tortoise in the race for a roster spot.
And slow and steady won the 53-man spot for Stoll, who finished with 61 receptions for 657 yards over 43 games as a "blocker" for the Cornhuskers.
“Being the undrafted guy, you come to the reality that you are not going to come in and be a starter on Day 1,” Stoll said prior to Thursday's practice.
In many ways, undrafted rookies have a slight advantage over players drafted late in the process because there is a chance to survey the landscape and pick a team that needs help at your particular position vs. being dropped into a situation where the numbers might be against you.
Perhaps, Stoll and his camp were like the rest of the NFL and assumed Ertz was moving on from the organization after a disappointing and contentious 2020 season but if that was the case when Stoll did arrive and Ertz remained, the thinking shifted toward soaking up everything two high-level TEs had to offer the young player.
“Anyone who says they aren’t [looking at the numbers] is lying so I took a look at the depth chart and it was one of the deals where I was looking at it and I realized I could learn from some great guys and I could come in, step in and compete,” Stoll said.
“... And being able to learn from guys like [Ertz and Goedert] and being in a city like this, I’m excited to be here.
So what was the Eagles’ pitch to get Stoll to try to beat the odds?
“Their pitch was, ‘You’ll be able to come here and we’ll give you an opportunity to show what you have,’” Stoll said of the Eagles. “ They didn’t guarantee anything. … I always like having a chip on my shoulder and nothing should be given to you.”
Having Michael, the ex-offensive coordinator in Tennessee and a mentor who has quickly developed a reputation as one of the better position coaches in the league, was also a big bullet point for Stoll.
“He’s another reason I ended up coming here,” Stoll said of Michael. “He’s obviously very knowledgeable, football IQ wise, and he’s someone that connects well with the entire room.”
Where others saw roadblocks for Stoll, the Aurora, Colo., native himself saw only the ability to marry opportunity with his own confidence.
“Obviously when you are in a room with Zach and Dallas and a bunch of other guys, it’s an awesome opportunity to come and learn,” said Stoll. “... I've always had the confidence that I am an NFL caliber tight end. So it was awesome just being able to go out there and prove it.”
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.