STRENGTHS - Zach Ertz is an excellent athlete who has the ability to run past LB's in the middle of the field. He is a build-up speed type of player with a long stride. Ertz can create mismatches because of his size/speed combination, and is effective enough while blocking that he should not come off of the field. He shows very soft, natural hands and looks comfortable making catches while adjusting to the ball, and he will fight for the ball when contested. Ertz is a solid route runner who gets open using his big body to box out defenders. He is big enough to run through arm tackles and is a weapon to gain yards physically. He is an efficient route runner with no wasted motion. He gets off the line quickly and finds soft spots in zone coverage to sit in. He looks at his best running the slant from the outside receiver position. Stanford lines him up everywhere on offense to create mismatches. He is a willing blocker and needs help from NFL coaching to improve in this area. Ertz is a tough, competitive football player who plays a gritty brand of football.
WEAKNESSES - Ertz is not a sudden athlete who can change direction easily, and he isn't explosive athletically. He is a one speed athlete who needs a few steps to build up his speed. While he catches the ball naturally, he needs to find more consistency as he will drop the ball here and there. Ertz lacks elite short area quickness but has enough to find ways to get open. He isn't a home run hitter, lacking long speed and the elusiveness to make defenders miss in the open field. He looks like a plodding pass catcher without any elite traits. NFL teams will have to be creative with him on offense as he looks better releasing uncovered because he can struggle with a jam at the line of scrimmage. While willing, Ertz is not technically sound as a blocker and gives up his man too often. He uses his big body to his advantage by walling off defenders, but he isn't a physical blocker and needs to improve if teams are to use him as an in-line blocking TE.
SUMMARY - Stanford's Zach Ertz is a natural pass catching tight end that possesses good athletic traits, but there isn't anything that is elite from an athletic perspective. He has good speed, but he needs a few steps to build up to it, and he lacks a second gear. Ertz is a very good route runner as he finds a way to get open, but he lacks short area quickness to separate from defenders. He is a very smart route runner who understands the system he plays in, and exploits defenses with his understanding of soft areas in zone coverage and route concepts. He tracks and locates the ball well, and will fight for it when it is challenged. He displays soft hands and is a fairly reliable pass catcher. While he doesn't possess great speed, he will gain yards after the catch because of his willingness to run through contact and is a player who will be tough to bring down. Ertz is not elusive and will most likely be a very good tight end that will move the chains in the NFL. He is not a strong blocker as his size would indicate, as he doesn't stick to his blocking assignments long enough, but he does an average job of making defenders run around him to get to the ball carrier. He is a willing blocker and could improve dramatically in this area with good NFL coaching. He is highly competitive and plays a tough brand of football. Ertz has been lined up all over the field in the Stanford offense, from split out wide to fullback, and he has very good versatility from a position perspective. He is a very productive tight end without elite athletic tools, flashing generally average speed and big play ability. However, he has proven to be a reliable pass catcher who makes plays with his intelligence and system awareness. He warrants consideration starting right away in the third-round because of his high level of production at Stanford.