Derek Carrier has been a Redskin for just a few days, but expectations are growing quickly in Ashburn.
So quickly, in fact, he's already leapfrogged five camp hopefuls and has been installed as the No. 2 tight end on the team’s unofficial depth chart, behind only Jordan Reed.
“Well, they were loaded at tight end in San Fran,” Coach Jay Gruden said, referring to the trade with the 49ers on Friday that brought Carrier to Washington in exchange for a 2017 fifth round pick. “We watched him on tape and he’s very good.”
Gruden added: “He’s a converted wide receiver and a [former] basketball player [at Beloit College]. He’s put on some weight. He looks like he competes in the running game, which is excellent, and he’s obviously very athletic.”
In 11 games with the 49ers last season, Carrier (6 foot 4, 241-pounds) saw only 194 snaps while playing behind Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald. Carrier finished the campaign, his second in the NFL, with nine catches for 105 yards. He also recorded three tackles on special teams.
Carrier said on Sunday that he strives to be a well-rounded tight end, one that can make an impact as a pass catcher and blocker.
“Being a former receiver and playing receiver when I first got in the NFL, I think that’s a strong suit of mine,” Carrier told me. “But I’m not overlooking blocking at all, and [pass] protection, because that's just as important, if not more important, and that’s something I take pride in.”
Carrier won’t have to wait his for turn in Washington, not with Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen done for the season and Reed nursing a hamstring strain. In fact, the 25-year-old hopes to play Saturday night in Baltimore.
“I have every intention of playing, but we’ll see what the coaches have in store for me,” he said. “I’m just going to attack this playbook.”
Gruden’s only lament is that Carrier wasn’t acquired sooner.
“I think he’s a good, young prospect to work with,” Gruden said. “I wish we would have had him a little earlier, but we’ll get him going. We still have a couple of weeks left to get him going and see if he’ll be ready for Miami. We’re excited about the prospect of him coming in and competing right away.”
Behind Reed and Carrier on the depth chart are Je’Ron Hamm, Chase Dixon, Devin Mahina, D.J. Williams and Ernst Brun. Gruden kept three tight ends at the final cutdown last season.