Since the Chris Cooley era, the Washington Redskins have been trying to find an answer at the Tight End position. Every time they seem to get their guy, something happens to set them back. It is a disheartening one step forward, two steps back process.Jordan Reed snatches a tough pass out of the air.
Former Redskins Tight End Fred Davis had a plethora of chances with the team, but substance abuse violations and overall laziness prevented him from reaching his potential.
Backups Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul have had some bright spots down the line, but haven't shown big play ability during their respective careers. Paulsen showed up during the 2012 season, filling in for an injured Fred Davis. He was able to bring in 25 catches for 308 yards and one touchdown. Just a year ago, Paulsen was again called to duty after Jordan Reed suffered a concussion. He had a similar season in 2013, with 28 catches for 267 yards and three touchdowns. These stats aren't presented to make you do somersaults, but they do prove that Paulsen can serve as a solid backup Tight End if need be.
Then, we have current starting Tight End Jordan Reed. This guy is no slouch. However, most Redskins fans didn't even know who he was until the team selected him in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Rest assured, they know who he is now. In 2013, Reed had 45 receptions for 499 yards and three touchdowns. It isn't the best statistical outing we have seen from a Tight End in the NFL, but he did give RG3 a good, consistent pass catcher to work with during the dreadful season. There is no questioning Reed's talent as a pass catcher, but the real question is; can he be "the guy" at Tight End?
This question is a difficult one to answer. At 6'3" and 225 pounds, (according to Redskins.com) Reed isn't your typical NFL Tight End. To be fair, it doesn't matter how big a player is, as long as they can showcase their athleticism and shine on the field. While there may be knocks on his size, his speed compensates for what he lacks in that category, and he is able to create good separation from defenders and bring in tough catches. In his first year in the NFL, he was constantly out due to concussions, so his health should be the biggest concern overall.
Some have classified him as a "joker Tight End." The term "joker Tight End" is used to describe a Tight End that is geared more towards catching passes rather than blocking. He has also earned comparisons to former Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez for his pass catching and playmaking ability.
Reed definitely possesses talent, but it would seem like a risk for the Redskins to gamble on his health down the stretch. Is it crazy to think the Redskins would draft a Tight End early in the Draft, even if there are other, more pressing needs? No, it isn't.
When Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden was the Offensive Coordinator at Cincinnati, he liked to run lots of two Tight End sets in his offense. He could do something similar in Washington. The team also met with Tight End Owen Daniels this past Free Agency; this may be an indication of the team's intent to address the position this offseason.
If the Redskins are planning on getting a big guy to pair up with Reed, there may be plenty of quality options in the second and third round of this year's Draft. Here is a list of potential Redskins draftees and their 2013 collegiate statistics:
- Jace Amaro - Texas Tech - 106 receptions/1,352 yards - Seven Touchdowns
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins - Washington - 36 receptions/450 yards - Eight Touchdowns
- Troy Niklas - Notre Dame - 32 receptions/498 yards - Five Touchdowns
Amaro, Seferian-Jenkins, and Niklas are all projected to go somewhere in the second round of the Draft, but since this class is so heavily stacked with talent, one or two of them may end up slipping to the third round. Any of these prospects would be successful in giving RG3 a big, reliable target to throw to over the middle and in red-zone situations. Not to mention, it would also take some of the heat off of Reed. This could be one of the final pieces to the puzzle in the Washington offense. Very few expect the Redskins to select a Tight End with their first pick, but it may be an area they wish to improve in as early as the third round of the Draft. If that is the case, one of these players should be a prime candidate to don the burgundy and gold in 2014.