Zach Ertz Helps Put Stanford on Top

Ed Kracz

The well is mostly dry this year for the top three colleges that have been the most productive in producing NFL-ready tight ends.

Stanford, Miami and Iowa have been the top three colleges at getting tight ends ready for the next level, per a series being done by Sports Illustrated.

SI has crunched 10 years’ worth of data to determine a modern U. Looking at the tight end position is the sixth in the series.

The Eagles’ Zach Ertz had a lot to do with Stanford earning that distinction.

Ertz was the Eagles’ second round pick in 2013, a draft that also yielded Lane Johnson, who was taken fourth overall.

Johnson was produced by Oklahoma, which was ranked seventh as the top-producing school for offensive linemen, according to SI’s series.

As the series points out, Stanford did not have a tight end selected in the first round over the past decade, but had more tight ends selected over that span, with seven.

Miami and Iowa, however, have more first-round picks at that position.

Miami, which also produced Jimmy Graham, who was a third-round pick in 2011, had David Njoku chosen in the first round of the 2017 draft.

Iowa had two first-round tight ends in the 2019 draft – T.J. Hockenson eighth overall and Noah Fant. The Hawkeyes’ George Kittle, widely considered one of the top three at his position in 2020, went in the fifth round of the 2017 draft.

Still, Stanford racked up 33 points in SI’s scoring system to Miami’s 30 and Iowa’s 29.

In addition to Ertz, the Cardinal also produced Austin Hooper, who signed a large free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns in this offseason as a former third-round pick, and Colby Fleener, who went in the second round in 2012.

In this year’s draft, scheduled for April 23-25, none of the three schools have anyone considered to be drafted on the first two days when the round one through are held.

Stanford’s Colby Parkinson could be a third-day pick. Parkinson is 6-7, 250 pounds.

Notre Dame, which finished fourth in SI’s rankings with 26 points, has a tight end considered the best coming out. That would be Cole Kmet, who is 6-4, 235 pounds and a could likely go in the second round.

Dayton’s Adam Trautman and Purdue’s Brycen Hopkins are also highly regarded in the 2020 draft.

Rounding out the top 10 in SI’s rankings are:

Oklahoma and USC, which tied for fifth with 20 points, Arkansas and Penn State, which tied for seventh, and Alabama ad Wisconsin, which tied for ninth.

Penn State could have one of the top three tight ends in the 2021 draft, with Pat Freiermuth having decided earlier this year to return for his junior season with the Nittany Lions.