Four spots on the Redskins’ 53-man roster were set once the Redskins took Jordan Reed in the third round of the draft last April
The Redskins seemed to be set at the position with Fred Davis having signed a one-year deal to return, Logan Paulsen, who started nine games after Davis went out with an torn Achilles, and Niles Paul, a special teams demon who is a work in progress as a tight end.
“We weren’t necessarily looking for a tight end, but when he was there we couldn’t pass him up,” said Mike Shanahan the night the Redskins drafted Reed. He later stated that the plan is to keep all four of the tight ends on the roster.
The depth chart lists Davis as the starter followed by Paulsen, Paul, and Reed. But they play different roles so it’s not as though they are lined up and someone in front will have to get injured for the next man on the list to play.
“I think it's going to help us out a lot,” said Davis of having the quartet of tight ends. “Two tight end sets, three tight end sets on the goal line.”
“I think the roles are definitely set. I feel like they know what they're going to use us for. Things might change during the season but I think right now everybody knows where they stand.”
Here’s how Davis sees the roles sorting out.
“Niles is definitely an athletic receiver, strong enough to play tight end,” he said. Paul was drafted as a wide receiver in 2011 and spent his rookie year there before he converted to tight end in 2012. He might never be a great receiver but his value as one of the linchpins on special teams ensures that he will be around.
“Logan's a blocker,” said Davis. “But he also can catch downfield.” Paulsen was thought of as a third tackle when he was on the field when he first came into the league and he caught just 20 catches and one touchdown in his nine starts last year. But he showed that downfield ability that Davis talks about in training camp. We will see how that translates into actual games this year.
“Jordan is definitely a receiver,” said Davis. “He's going to work on his blocking, he's going to get better eventually and learn how to block.”
The hope is that Reed will develop into a big-play type of receiver with an ability to get open downfield and who can pick up big chunks of yards after the catch.
As Davis noted, Reed is a work in progress when it comes to blocking. All of the tight ends are working with Reed on blocking technique, teaching him how to gain leverage on bigger defenders. Davis said that Chris Cooley taught him a lot about blocking when he was a rookie and Davis is passing that knowledge on to this year’s rookie tight end.
What about Davis? What’s his role?
“Me, I just do everything,” he said.
Although he doesn’t block as well as Paulsen and isn’t the big-play threat that Reed could develop into, Davis is a well-rounded tight end and that’s why he’s the starter.
NFL teams don’t often keep so many tight ends because it’s difficult to find a role for all of them. We will see how it works out with the 2013 Redskins.