Blocking to determine Antonio Gandy-Golden's success at TE

Antonio Gandy-Golden

Antonio Gandy-Golden was never able to lock down a spot on Washington's wide receiver depth chart through the first two years of his career, but perhaps a move to tight end could help him carve out a role in the NFL. 

With Logan Thomas expected to miss the early portion of the 2022 season, the Commanders and Gandy-Golden agreed on a position change to better utilize the former fourth-round pick's skillset. He has the frame to pull it off at 6'4 with long arms and a strong frame. The key for Gandy-Golden will come at the line of scrimmage, and the coaching staff is monitoring his progress as a blocker during OTAs. 

"Well, probably the first thing foremost is his blocking," Ron Rivera said Monday. "It is kind of hard right now because we're not in pads, but we wanna make sure he knows those assignments and where he is headed. We know his skillset as a receiver. It's the size that we really like. To be a guy that can run and play basically the U or the F position for us. We feel pretty good about what he's bringing to the table right now, but it will come down to his ability to block."

Gandy-Golden was known as a strong blocker during his college career at Liberty, bullying defensive backs on the perimeter to open up outside running lanes. However, blocking corners is a lot different than blocking edge rushers or blitzing linebackers. 

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At that point, successfully fending off the freak athletes NFL defenses are sending at the quarterback comes down to positioning. 

"It's a big man with some skill and athleticism that you look for," Rivera said. "That's why I think basketball players or quarterbacks have been able to transition to it. It's also positioned though that calls for a guy to know the game, understand the game and body position. One of the best body position receivers I've ever been around is Greg Olsen, who knew how to keep his body between the defender and the ball. You see that with guys that can rebound, you know, go out and get the ball. That's why I think some basketball players have transitioned very, very well. I was with Antonio Gates in San Diego and I think he was pretty doggone good at it as well. If you have some size and some athletic ability and you are a guy that has ball skills, I think you can transition very well to that position."

A spot on the 53-man roster is still a long way away for Gandy-Golden. Despite Thomas' injury, the Commanders' tight end room is crowded. Their 2021 fourth-round pick John Bates will be back and probably begin the season as the No. 1, while 2022 fifth-round pick Cole Turner and Sammis Reyes will both have a good chance at making the team.