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Rating the Redskins: Tight end

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Rating the Redskins: Tight end

New Redskins GM Scot McCloughan aimed to improve nearly every position through the draft or via free agency. How has he done? Over the next couple of weeks, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine and rate each group on the team. The ratings will be based on the quality of the players as compared to the rest of the league and, in particular, the division.

We’ll use a scale of 1 to 10. To receive a 10, a position group would need Pro-Bowl caliber starters and solid backups. A rating of 1 means the starters are aging and ineffective and there are no promising reserves in the pipeline.

We’ve already looked at the defensive lineoffensive line, linebackers and wide receivers. Up this today, we’ve got the tight ends.

Starters: Jordan Reed.

Reserves: Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen.

El-Bashir: Like many position groups on the Redskins, this one should be better than it is. And that’s got everything to do with the unfulfilled potential that Reed possesses. He’s got all the physical tools to become one of the NFL’s premier pass catching tight ends. Hands. Athleticism. A wide catch radius. But, unfortunately for Reed and Redskins, the third-year player can’t stay on the field. In fact, he’s missed 12 games in two NFL seasons due to a variety of injuries ranging from pulled hamstrings to severe concussions. If Reed, who is sidelined this offseason after undergoing a minor knee procedure, manages to put together a full 16-game season, he could be a Pro Bowler. But right now, that’s an enormous ‘if.’ And something you can’t really count on happening. One of the more intriguing players on the Redskins’ roster, meantime, is Paul, who was among the first free agents re-signed by McCloughan. The former wide receiver enjoyed a career-year last season while filling in for the oft-injured Reed, and this offseason has packed on 14 pounds in an effort to become a better blocker. Paul is also one of the team’s best special teamers. I’m not exactly sure how Paulsen fits into the plans in ’15 after his snap count was nearly cut in half in Jay Gruden’s first season. Gruden, however, recently praised Paulsen, saying, “Logan right now is our best blocker. It’s good to have him for sure.” Given that the team did not bring in any serious competition this offseason, it would be a surprise if there were any changes to the depth chart at this position. Rating: 6.

Tandler: Sometimes players like Reed manage to shake the injury bug. They figure out how to take care of their bodies better and how to avoid unnecessary hits. Those who can adjust often go on to have long, productive careers. Others either can’t figure it out or just have a body makeup that can’t stand up under the stress of playing the game; these players rarely get second contracts. We’ll start to find out which group Reed is in over the coming months. If he’s healthy enough to play 14-16 games the unit could be pretty strong. Fortunately the Redskins do have a solid backup plan for Reed in Paul. After he was converted from wide receiver to tight end following his rookie 2011 season it took him a couple of years to figure it out. He had 14 career catches going into 2014; he surpassed that total in Week 2. Paul is not the threat that Reed can be but he provides solid depth and, as Tarik noted, some standout special teams play. Paulsen also contributes on special teams but his hands are suspect; in the last two years he has 41 receptions but has fumbled three times and has four drops. Overall this is not an impressive group of tight ends but the fact that the position is weak all around the league prompts a grade on the curve. Rating: 5

Consensus: 5.5

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Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 19, seven days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

We know what to expect out of many members of the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan will register between 10 and 13 sacks. Zach Brown will be among the league leaders in tackles. Jamison Crowder will compile about 800 yards receiving. But we really don’t know what to expect out of a lot of the players expected to play key roles. Here are five of them.

S Montae Nicholson—Although most of the uncertainty surrounding Nicholson is about his health, we really don’t know what he can do over a full season. Sure, he looked good in the six games he played last year but opposing offenses did not have much of a chance to probe his weaknesses. If he stays healthy, his ability to adjust to what the offenses are doing against him will be the next phase of his development. 

CB Fabian Moreau—As a rookie, he was impressive as a punt team gunner, but he got very limited playing time on defense (59 snaps, only seven after Week 5). The Redskins will be counting on him stepping into a bigger role after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. He has the tools but we won’t know how well he can handle the job until he gets extended playing time. 

WR Maurice Harris—Last year he went from spectacular to invisible in a hurry. He made a sensational catch for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings the first time he was targeted. In five games after that, he had just three receptions for 26 yards. Should he have had more playing time (76 snaps)? Or did he just not earn more targets? The real Maurice Harris should come to the forefront in 2018.

NT Phil Taylor—You know the story here. He was looking great in training camp until a quad injury sidelined him for the season. Taylor is healthy enough for the Redskins to give him another chance but this is a player who has not taken the field since November of 2014. We simply don’t know what to expect out of him even if he does make into Week 1 in good health. 

RB Samaje Perine—His play improved as the year went on but he wasn’t good enough to keep both Jay Gruden and Doug Williams from saying that running back is a draft need. Ideally, he shares carries with the probable draft pick with a few going to Chris Thompson and they combine to rush for 1,800 yards. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 33
—Training camp starts (7/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 143

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Is the Redskins’ starter at left guard already on the roster?

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Is the Redskins’ starter at left guard already on the roster?

The Redskins have checked off a number of their “needs” boxes that they had when the season began. But there are two holes that remain. 

One is nose tackle. Of course, that has been an issue since 2010. The Redskins may have obtained part of the solution when the brought back Phil Taylor last week and most believe that more help will come in the draft. 

The other need, the one at left guard, also may be a work in progress. Or, perhaps they think they have the solution on the depth chart. 

The team does not put out a depth chart before training camp but if they did distribute one right now they would have Arie Kouandjio as the starting left guard. That is cause for consternation among many Redskins fans and based on some of his past play the low confidence level is justified. 

Kouandjio was a fourth-round pick in 2015. He played sparingly his first two years in the league, getting two fill-in starts in 2016. In training camp last year, he spent a lot of time playing with the third team and it was no surprise when he was one of the final cuts. The team kept undrafted rookie Tyler Catalina instead. 

Kouandjio caught on with the Ravens’ practice squad but when injuries started to pile upon the O-line in Week 8, the Redskins brought him back. Two days after he was signed he played 22 snaps at left guard against the Cowboys. 

In all, he played in eight games, starting six of them. He allowed three sacks, which is the same number that Brandon Scherff gave up, but Scherff played about twice as many snaps. 

What about 2018? Word from John Keim is that Kouandjio has changed his training to focus on lower-body strength and agility. He knows that he has a chance to establish himself in the NFL and he’s doing what he can to take advantage of it. 

Another option at left guard is 31-year-old Tony Bergstrom, who was re-signed earlier this week. He has played for four teams in six years in the league and has started seven games including three at center for the Redskins. Like Kouandjio, he may not be the ideal solution but perhaps a passable option. 

The whole picture here could up be upended in the draft if the Redskins use one of their top picks on a guard. There has been plenty of chatter about Ohio State center Billy Price going to the Redskins in the second round. He may not last that long. If he’s there, however, the Redskins have to seriously consider him. 

The team may go through the draft and perhaps OTAs and minicamp with what they have now. If it doesn’t look like they have a starting caliber player in place they then could reach out to the free agent market and bring in someone like Alex Boone

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.