Everyone wants the next Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, it’s en vogue in the NFL right now. To that point, I’ve come across two distinct groups while perusing the message boards, those who think Tyler Eifert is the best TE and those who believe it’s Zach Ertz. Each group tends to believe their choice is the next best TE. So instead of lumping Eifert and Ertz in with a bunch of other tight ends for comparisons, I’ve decided to do a head to head comparison. Each has their own pros and cons, you get to decide who you believe is the better choice.
For this study, I only dealt with receptions and passes, no blocking. As was true with the wide receivers, I charted a variety of factors including yards after the catch and where they were lined up. For this study, I have added yards after first contact to get a feel for the strength of these TEs. Let’s compare!
Where Did They Catch the Ball?
This is only where they caught the ball, excluding YAC. Last year I worked up some of Coby Fleener’s stats, so I’ll be comparing them. Edit: Some people were unhappy that I only used Fleener’s numbers and the use was biased. I simply used his numbers because his prototype as TE is similar to both Ertz and Eifert. However, I have now added Dwayne Allen’s numbers from last year.
- Despite Ertz and Fleener playing in the same offense, we actually see different distributions of completions. Ertz’s are weighted more heavily towards shorter passes, with 68% of his passes coming within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
- Eifert’s distribution resembles Fleener’s much more closely. They both have a large amount of receptions within the 1-5 yard range then a large amount of receptions within the 11-20 range. I believe this shows an aptitude for catch both dump off passes and big gaining intermediate receptions.
- Neither is the deep threat that Fleener was. Almost 17% of Fleener’s receptions were past 20 yards. Eifert had nearly half of that and Ertz only reached 12%.
Where Did Their Yardage Come From?
(For this I charted yards after contact, which means as soon as a defender contacted the TEs, I noted it)
- Eifert in general caught the ball slightly further down the field, 10.4 yards to 9.64 yards for Ertz.
- Both Ertz and Eifert had similar total yards after the catch (before contact + after first contact) at 3.94 yards and 3.6 respectively. They came in different manners though.
- The majority of Ertz’ yards after the catch came before contact, with only 1.24 yards after first contact on average. Eifert’s was much more divided with 1.96 yards coming after contact.
- Now this doesn’t seem like a big difference, but I believe this is a larger indicator for projection into the NFL. We see Eifert with more effort and strength after the catch compared to Ertz. The players won’t get smaller in the NFL, so the stronger the better.
How Do They Compare in Other Aspects?
- We have to examine drops. This is probably the most glaring difference. Ertz had almost double the drops of Eifert at a drop rate of 10.68% to only 5.26% for Eifert. That drop rate would give him the second best hands out of this wide receiver class behind only Keenan Allen. Impressive for a TE.
- Both of their catches came from very similar pre-snap alignments. Neither one has more experience or an advantage in a particular alignment. Anyone who tells you one has more experience from the outside or slot is misinformed.
Both of them converted a similar amount of third downs. From my sample, 64% of both of their passes were caught for 1st downs. I also calculated whether they picked up their first downs through the air or after the catch and the numbers were nearly identical. No distinguishing.
Both tight ends have their own positives and negatives. Eifert has better hands and more power after the catch. Ertz has better overall yards after the catch and is a bigger deep threat than Eifert. There are things to like and dislike about each prospect. When making your evaluation based on these stats, you have to first figure out what’s more important to you in a TE. Do you want a guy who is more of a potential game breaker, a guy who is solid after the catch with good hands. Do you value power or speed more? These are the things that will define your evaluation.
Many scouting sites will tell you there is a right and a wrong answer. There probably is. However, I don’t know it and no one will for a year or two. Hopefully though, will these statistics, you can be that much closer to figuring out the right answer for yourself.
Before the charts, if you’ve liked this, you can follow me at Follow @NU_Gap. I do work pretty much every day breaking down prospects and I’ll be tweeting out interesting stats that I come across , future articles/breakdowns (CBs are most likely next), or let you know when I post new things (Tavon Austin individual breakdown) . Thanks a lot!
I’m going to put up two more charts just to give you a feel for their yardage by down and quarter.