The list of tight ends who have finished an NFL season averaging at least 9.5 yards per target is a short but illustrious one. Mostly, it’s a roll call of players who have helped redefine the position. Rob Gronkowski, George Kittle and Travis Kelce have each done it at least three times. Vernon Davis did it twice. Also on the list: Antonio Gates, Darren Waller, Jimmy Graham, Shannon Sharpe.

Also: Dallas Goedert.

Yep, that Dallas Goedert.

In 15 games for the Eagles last season, Goedert racked up 830 yards on just 76 targets for a 10.98 yard-per-target average that ranks as the highest single-season mark by an NFL tight end with at least 75 targets since at least 1992, according to

Granted, this is one statistical category. But any time a player’s company is limited to the eight names we just mentioned, he’s probably worth some further consideration. Gronkowski, Kittle, Kelce, Davis, Gates, Waller, Graham, Sharpe — that group could easily rank consecutively as the greatest game-changers in the modern era of the tight end position. Tony Gonzalez and Jeremy Shockey have an argument. Ozzie Newsome and Jackie Smith, too, depending on how you define the era. They are the true playmakers, the X-factors, the players primarily responsible for taking the tight end position from their flow-of-the-offense forefathers and injecting with the same dynamic athletic talent that personnel men have long sought at wide receiver and running back.

Last year, Goedert beat them all.

Yards-per-target might sound like an arcane metric, but think about what it means. Last year, Eagles quarterbacks attempted 76 passes in Goedert’s direction. On average, Goedert turned each of those attempts into more yards than any other tight end had over the course of a season.

Now, think about Goedert’s situation. For all of the hype that accompanied the Eagles’ decision to draft him in the second round in 2018, for all of the potential he has flashed during his first four seasons in the NFL, the 27-year-old has mostly existed at a tier well below the Kittles and the Kelces. While Goedert ranks seventh among tight ends in yardage since 2018, his 2,295 yards are not even half of Kelce’s total (5,106) and barely more than half of Kittle’s (3,974). One can argue that Goedert has yet to distinguish himself even from his draft class. At the moment, Best in Show goes to Mark Andrews, who has Goedert beat handily in every receiving stat, rate or cumulative. Andrews was drafted by the Ravens 37 spots after Goedert.

Yet, for all but 10 games of those four seasons, Goedert has mostly existed as the No. 2 tight end in his own offense.

Now, consider those 10 games. After the Week 7 trade that sent Zach Ertz to Arizona, Goedert ranked sixth among tight ends in receiving yards. Only Gronkowski and rookie phenom Kyle Pitts averaged better than his 15.0 yards per catch. And none of those numbers includes Goedert’s six catches and 92 yards in the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Bucs.

This leads to a natural question. With a new contract extension in hand, and a new Pro Bowl receiver out wide, and a full offseason as the Eagles’ No. 1 tight end, is Goedert poised to take his biggest step yet?

“I just want to keep on getting better each and every day,” Goedert said last week after the Eagles’ last OTA practice before training camp. “I think there’s still a lot I can improve on, which is a really exciting thing.”

Whether you are a fantasy football captain or a rival defensive coordinator, Goedert will be giving people plenty to think about heading into 2022. In the 10 games that he played without Ertz, 57 of the Eagles’ 251 pass attempts went in his direction, a whopping 26.2% target share. For perspective, Kelce’s target share for the Chiefs last season was 20.8%.

While the acquisition of A.J. Brown and the continued development of DeVonta Smith will presumably cut into Goedert’s slice of the pie, the presence of all three should also create more to go around.

“It’s just going to open up the field completely,” Goedert said. “People are going to have to focus on [Brown], focus on Smitty, focus on me, focus on Jalen [Hurts]. We’ve got a lot of good pieces. We’ve just got to continue to build and grow and use each other to get better each and every day.”

It can’t be stated enough that Hurts will be the biggest variable in all of this. Including the playoff loss to the Bucs, the Eagles’ quarterback averaged just 187 yards passing while throwing six touchdowns and seven interceptions in his last nine games of the season. This, after averaging 245.1 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions in his first seven games. If Hurts can’t adjust to the adjustments that NFL defensive coordinators made last season, no amount of skill position talent will be able to rescue the offense.

At the same time, Goedert is one reason to think Hurts will be in a better position to consistently make the sorts of plays that we saw when he was at his best. While Ertz may have been the more polished pass-catcher, there’s a reason the Eagles made the move they did. Goedert’s 14.8 yard-per-catch average last season was a testament to the big play potential he creates with his athleticism. Ertz’s best single-season mark came in his rookie season when he averaged 13.0 yards per catch. After that, he averaged 10.6 yards per catch, including 10.4 in his last high-volume season with the Eagles in 2019.

However you spin the numbers, or the game tape, Goedert is still a long way away from the freakish production of guys like Kittle or prime-era Gronk. Athletically, situationally, the potential might not exist. At the same time, opportunity is a prerequisite for the fulfillment of potential. Goedert took advantage of it last season. This year, even more of it exists.

» READ MORE: Eagles’ play-caller drama is meaningless. Jalen Hurts is the only variable that matters.