Rookie Dallas Goedert is looking to make an immediate impact in the game.
By Dave Spadaro
The NBA just conducted its annual draft, and as fans and analysts debated the moves your 10–9–8–76ers made (I liked them!), the Eagles players were scattered across America, enjoying their last gulps of free time before training camp begins on July 26 at the NovaCare Complex.
One of those players, safely ensconced in his hometown of Britton, South Dakota, is a rookie looking to make an immediate impact in the man’s world of the NFL.
From boys to men.
That’s the step taken by college players — basketball and football — into the highest level of sports in the world.
They are just kids thrust into the spotlight working for teams that have invested millions of dollars and hard-to-calculate man-hours into scouting and speculation. Projecting that the players will transition from college to the professional game quickly is educated guessing, with a success rate of less than 50 percent.
For the Eagles, the scouting that went into grading South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert was extensive. They sent personnel evaluators to his games in college. They interviewed his coaches, his teammates and his rivals. They did extensive background checks. They learned about his home life.
And when it came time to make the 49th overall pick in the spring NFL Draft, the Eagles tabbed Goedert and the projections were instantaneous.
“The addition of Goedert will present a matchup headache for opposing defenses,” said ESPN.
“He is as ready for the NFL as any player in this draft,” said Pro Football Focus.
“He was my top-ranked tight end in this class. Philadelphia played with at least two tight ends on 350 snaps last season, so there’s plenty of ways to get (Zach) Ertz and Goedert on the field together,” said ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.
How hard is it to jump from college to the NFL, much less from South Dakota State to the National Football League? From A to Z, basically.
“In college,” Goedert said, “there are times when you are bigger and stronger than the players on defense, so you know you have an advantage. Here, not only is every player a great athlete, he also has experience in the league as a factor to consider. Everything is different. The tempo is so much faster on and off the field. A lot happens. It’s a job. It’s a man’s game. The difference is a huge one.”
With all of those obstacles in place, Goedert made swift progress in the spring and he’s very much in the plans for the Eagles in the offense.
In Goedert, the Eagles see Zach Ertz 2.0 — a pass-catching machine with good athletic ability and sticky, reliable hands. If all goes according to plan, Goedert should provide immediate impact in the Eagles’ two-tight end set. He should make the quantum leap from a smaller-school football scenario (South Dakota State) to the rough-and-rugged NFC East. He should be a man in a man’s world.
It helps that Goedert turns 23 years of age on July 3, and having three years in college should aid in the transition.
Still, there are no guarantees. The NFL is a wicked, uncompromising place to be. You either perform or you’re gone. The rush to judgment on Goedert has been swift, just as it has been for the Sixers and their draft-night daring.
“You have to give a guy a chance to get acclimated and kind of grow into the game,” Ertz said of rookies entering the NFL. “We don’t let that happen too often. The level of pressure, you just can’t imagine what it’s like.”
No, but we know how instantaneous the evaluations are. Goedert is the hope for immediate productivity and if he comes through, the Eagles have made themselves a better football team. ••