PHILADELPHIA – Dallas Goedert is the unquestioned No. 1 tight end on the Eagles.
The trade of Zach Ertz last October cleared that path for the former South Dakota State standout. The deal also elevated Jack Stoll from No. 3 to No. 2 on the TE depth chart.
Staying put behind Goedert is now his training camp goal.
The field of challengers trying to unseat him shrunk by one on Friday, the team’s day off, when Jaeden Graham was placed on Injured Reserve.
My first 53-man roster projection, released prior to camp, had the Eagles keeping four tight ends. That now seems like too many. Three feels more accurate.
Here are the candidates vying not only to earn reps but win a job:
Grant Calcaterra. The Eagles spent a sixth-round pick on him, and he was having a solid camp until a hamstring injury sidelined him earlier in the week.
Noah Togiai. He is also having a solid camp. Interestingly, he was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Eagles in 2020 out of Oregon State but was released at the end of camp. That’s when the Colts, who had Nick Sirianni as their offensive coordinator, picked him up. Togiai played four games in Indianapolis that year but did not record a catch.
Tyree Jackson. The 6-7, 250-pound Jackson showed promise last summer in his development from college QB to NFL tight end, but he spent the first two months of the season recovering from a broken back during an August practice. He then tore an ACL in the regular-season finale and is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Richard Rodgers. The now-30-year-old veteran has always been there for the Eagles, ready to step in whenever calamity struck over the past four years. He’s played 25 games with the Eagles in that span, with 14 coming just two years ago when he had 24 catches for 345 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. The transition from receiver to tight end is a major work in progress for the former second-round pick and even though he was on my original 53-man roster projection prior to the start of camp, he is a longshot to win a spot.
Now, it’s no secret that the Eagles would like to use more 11-personnel - three-receiver sets and one tight end on the field - but they would still like to use 12 personnel – two tight end sets – based on matchups and to keep defenses thinking.
So, the backup tight end position is valuable.
Last year, Stoll proved his value with his ability to block.
This year, after an offseason working on becoming more of a receiving threat, he is ready for any role Sirianni has in store for him.
“I’m doing whatever to help the team win at this point,” said the Nebraska product. “If that means they think it’s going out there and catching a couple of balls, that’d be great.
"Obviously, every tight end wants to be able to do both. But like I said at the end of the day as long as I’m here helping the team win ball games, trust me, I’d rather win every single game than go out there and have a catch every single game.”
Stoll’s snap count was meager at first, with Ertz on the team. After the trade, though, they increased considerably, and he ended up playing 331 of them (30 percent).
While his snaps went up, his targets and catches did not. Understandable, really, in an offense that had other weapons to use and added another in A.J. Brown this offseason.
Stoll had four catches for 22 yards on just five targets.
“I think last year I knew my niche was going to be blocking,” he said. “That’s how I was going to make the team, so that was my emphasis. As the year went on I realized I can develop into being able to catch the ball. That’s what I focused on in OTAs and this offseason was developing a little more fast twitch, coming out of breaks faster, and really becoming an all-purpose tight end. That’s the goal at the end of the day.
“I feel I’m progressing well, but still a lot I can learn. Having a guy like Dallas Goedert in the tight end room, you can just sit there and watch what he does is unbelievable.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.