Eagles: Grant Calcaterra could have a significant impact as a rookie

At this point, it’s pretty clear that Dallas Goedert is a star in the making at tight end. He’s fresh off his best statistical season to date and will enter 2022 as the unquestioned TE1 on the Eagles depth chart. Behind him, the coaching staff has a handful of question marks to sift through.

First and foremost, who will be the primary tight end in 12 personnel formations?

The Eagles utilized 12 personnel on 25% of their offensive plays last year, the ninth-highest frequency in the NFL. Even after the Zach Ertz trade, Nick Sirianni utilized undrafted rookie Jack Stoll as a blocking tight end with Goedert still on the field.

While Stoll’s experience may give him a slight edge heading into training camp, my attention will be on rookie Grant Calcaterra, the Eagles’ sixth-round pick from this year’s NFL Draft.

For starters, Calcaterra is already a much more polished receiver than Stoll. In his final year with SMU, Calcaterra totaled 38 receptions for 465 yards and 4 touchdowns. In totality, Calcaterra accumulated 79 receptions for 1,102 yards and 13 touchdowns in his collegiate career. Stoll ended his college career with 61 catches for 657 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 242 pounds, Calcaterra looks the part and he has solid athleticism for the position. He’s a natural pass catcher who can attack the middle of the field as well as stretch the defense vertically.

Entering the 2019 college football season, Calcaterra was starting to get some recognition. Pro Football Focus wrote, “Calcaterra is in consideration for best tight end in the country,” prior to the season. Unfortunately, his 2019 season didn’t go according to plan. He suffered multiple concussions in the first handful of games and announced that he was retiring from football because of it.

After a full year away from the game, Calcaterra announced in August 2020 that he would return to the field. This time as a member of the Auburn Tigers. After the program changed coaching staffs, Calcaterra opted to join SMU instead, where he put forth his best statistical collegiate season to date.

If it weren’t for the serious concussion concerns and his departure from the game altogether, there’s a good chance Calcaterra would have been one of the first tight ends taken in this draft. He has all the physical tools to succeed as a receiver and he’s shown a willingness to throw his body into the fray when blocking; although he does need to improve in that area moving forward.

Having a legitimate receiving threat in 1-2 formations is a clear advantage for any offense. Stoll should still get playing time in running situations, but he simply doesn’t provide any type of matchup problems for the opposing defense. Calcaterra absolutely does.

From an offensive play calling perspective, more flexibility is always better. Having Calcaterra alongside Goedert gives Shane Steichen and Sirianni a lot of opportunities to get creative in the passing game.

The big question surrounding Calcaterra is his health and justifiably so. If he can remain healthy and put the concussion issues behind him, he could serve as a great Robin to Goedert’s Batman in the Eagles’ offense.

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