Summary: Stanford has featured a smash-mouth offense the past few seasons and the team's tight ends have been integral part of that offensive attack. Ertz was the backup to Coby Fleener in 2011, but he still made an impact with 27 receptions for 346 yards and four touchdowns. He caught 16 passes for 190 yards and five touchdowns in 2010, his first season of playing time.
With Fleener and Andrew Luck in the NFL, Ertz stepped up this season and was a huge contributor for the Cardinal. He was Stanford's leading receiver with a total of 69 receptions for 898 yards and six touchdowns. Ertz improved his blocking as well.
Ertz had a huge contribution against Oregon with 11 receptions for 106 yards and a remarkable touchdown catch to force overtime. That helped the Cardinal pull of its biggest win of the season. He also had massive games against Washington and California. It could've been an even bigger season but Stanford struggled with inconsistent quarterback play.
Aside from leading the Cardinal through the air, Ertz was a core contributor to the team's tough ground offense. He was an effective edge-blocker throughout the season for running back Stepfan Taylor. Ertz illustrated that he has the strength to be effective in the front seven. The Stanford coaching staff also did a good job of coaching up Ertz's technique.
Ertz looks like a starting NFL tight end who is going to be a good contributor in the ground game and as a receiver. He has real quickness and athleticism to get deep down the seam. Ertz has fabulous hands and good body control to go up and make tough catches in traffic. He should be a featured red-zone player. Ertz is very good at making contested catches. He presents real mismatch problems with too much speed for linebackers and daunting size over defensive backs.
Ertz looks like a late first-round or early second-round pick. He doesn't have the elite speed and athletic ability of the Patriots' tight ends, but Ertz has the potential to be pro bowler.
Player Comparison: Heath Miller. There is a similar style of play between Miller and Ertz. Both are tough run-blockers who are skilled at working the middle of the field as receivers. Miller (6-5, 256) is nearly the same size and was a late first-round pick in 2005. Ertz looks like he has a little more speed and athleticism than Miller, but they have similar styles of play.
NFL Matches: Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, Green Bay, Houston
There are a number of teams that could target Ertz in the back half of the first round. The highest that he could hope to be selected is probably by the Bears with the 20th-overall pick. Chicago general manager Phil Emery has stated that finding a tight end to work the middle of the field is a top priority. Emery badly wants a receiving tight end like Ertz.
Another option is St. Louis at No. 22. The Rams could use another tight end to pair with 2011 second-round pick Lance Kendricks. Staying in the NFC West, Seattle could use a good receiving tight end for Russell Wilson.
The Packers could dump Jermichael Finley this offseason and taking Ertz as a replacement makes some sense. He would fit their offense well and help their run blocking.
Houston has a good tight end in Owen Daniels, but doesn't have any depth behind him. If Ertz is the best player available, the Texans could take him to add a double tight end dimension to their offense.