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Pac-12 Football: Losing Ertz Hurts

Replacing tight end Zach Ertz and backup Levine Toilolo will be Stanford's biggest challenge next season.

Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

Now that we know which underclassmen are declaring for the NFL Draft and which are returning to school next season. Which early entrant will be the hardest for his now former team to replace?

Jack Follman Pacific Takes - Zach Ertz. The Cardinal rely on their tight end more than any other team in the country and with the additional declaration of Levine Toilolo, they don’t have a tight end on their roster with more than one catch last season. Add in the fact that they have very limited options at receiver and this could become a huge problem for Stanford in 2013.

Jack Blanchat, Rule of Tree: Either Zach Ertz or Robert Woods. USC’s offense will definitely drop off in 2013 because teams will do everything they can to stop Marqise Lee, and Max Wittek will need somebody on the other side to throw to. However, Ertz was so talented and so instrumental to Stanford’s offense that I doubt the Cardinal can find someone good enough to replicate even half of his 2012 production.

Andy Wooldridge, Building The Dam: I agree on Zach Ertz, and as Jack alluded to, the reason is Levine Toilolo. The Cardinal still have an experienced big TE, but their system is most effective with more than one of them, and no matter the quality of recruits/replacements, Ertz is going to take a lot to replace. The lack of experience and need to replace other major pieces who would otherwise buy some time to replace Ertz (and Toilolo) makes the need to replace them quickly all the more acute, and Toilolo’s absence makes replacing Ertz both more difficult and even more important.

Jon Woods, Ralphie Report: Ertz and Toilolo made the Stanford offense thrive and their replacements just won’t be able to equal that kind of production right off the bat. I’d love to say David Bakhtiari as well because he would have been the key cog in the rebuilt Buffaloes offensive line but I do think he can be replaced to some degree.