Over the past month, the Redskins’ depth chart has undergone a minor makeover as seven draft picks and more than a dozen college free agents have been welcomed into the fold. In the coming days, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will break down the revamped roster, position-by-position, and set up the key battles as OTAs ramp up.
Position: Tight end
On the roster: Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, Vernon Davis, Logan Paulsen, Derek Carrier, Marcel Jensen, Michael Cooper
Likely to make the 53: Reed, Paul, Davis
Comment: Reed is now officially the lead dog of the group here, a status he earned both with his stats (led the team in all major receiving categories last year) and paycheck (his recently signed five-year, $48.4 million extension). His durability is always a concern; a concussion cost him two games last year and that particular issue needs to be monitored carefully. But as long as he’s healthy he creates matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.
Davis was a similar problem for defensive coordinators from starting a couple of years after Scot McCloughan drafted him through 2013. He was posted very pedestrian numbers in 2014 and 2015. Was that due to some physical decline by Davis or was it shaky quarterback situations in San Francisco and Denver? McCloughan firmly believes it was the latter and he is looking for Davis to keep defenses from ganging up on Reed.
Paul missed last year with a dislocated ankle that his doctor said was “the worst he’s ever seen.” His participation in OTAs is in doubt but he should be good to go for training camp. It’s easy to forget that Paul was ahead of Reed on the depth chart when he was injured. With Davis around, his pass-catching role may be diminished but he will play some tight end, some fullback, and contribute on special teams.
Battling for a job: Paulsen, Carrier, Jensen, Cooper
Comment: Will the Redskins carry four tight ends on the 53-man roster? They aren’t re-signing Darrel Young and that leaves a roster spot open. Paulsen, who missed last year with a toe injury, is the leading candidate to get that fourth roster spot. He can do a lot of the dirty work, blocking and playing special teams.
Carrier’s status depends on his health. He suffered a knee injury in Chicago in December. His status for training camp and even the start of the season is in doubt. He wasn’t very productive filling in for Paul and Paulsen last year but they didn’t trade for him until late August so he didn’t get much offseason time to work with the team. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like he’ll get much of that this year either.
The Redskins signed Jensen for the last two games of the season. He still has practice squad eligibility and that is his likely landing spot. Like most undrafted rookies Cooper faces an uphill battle.
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