So far in free agency, the Redskins have addressed tight end by signing a guy who just started playing the position a few years ago and watching as other teams acquired the more established players. This has concerned many who follow the Burgundy and Gold.
Fortunately for Washington, they can also add to the position in next month's draft, something they're likely planning on doing and absolutlely should do. A group consisting of Logan Thomas, Jeremy Sprinkle and Hale Hentges is not a group that any offense should head into a season relying on.
If they do eventually select a tight end, however, they shouldn't necessarily expect that guy to contribute in a major way as a rookie. The numbers show that's an unlikely outcome.
Take a look at the position's most productive first-year pro over the last five years, as well as where their yardage totals ranked at the spot overall:
- Noah Fant (2019) — 40 catches, 562 yards, 3 touchdowns (13th-most yards for a TE)
- Chris Herndon (2018) — 39 catches, 502 yards, 4 touchdowns (17th-most)
- Evan Engram (2017) — 64 catches, 722 yards, 6 touchdowns (5th-most)
- Hunter Henry (2016) — 36 catches, 478 yards, 8 touchdowns (23rd-most)
- Will Tye (2015) — 42 catches, 464 yards, 3 touchdowns (22nd-most)
With the exception of Engram, this group acted more as complementary pieces in their offenses as opposed to transformational weapons.
Furthermore, Engram and Henry — the two who stand out most from those five above, due to the former's output in catches and yards and the latter's amount of touchdowns — were drafted 23rd and 35th overall, respectively. Currently, the Redskins own the second pick and then will be up next at No. 66, as they try to nab a promising prospect from a wave that doesn't seem to have any blue chip names in it as of now.
By the way, for those wondering, a tight end hasn't won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award since at least 1967, according to Pro Football Reference.
This look back suggests the Redskins may regret not pursuing Austin Hooper, Eric Ebron and others harder, and also suggests they perhaps should look to bring in Tyler Eifert or Delanie Walker. Eifert and Walker aren't perfect free agents by any means, but they should be better-suited to make a difference in 2020 than someone just entering the league.
Yes, finishing April's draft with at least one new rookie tight end to develop is essentially a must for the Redskins at this point, and still should be even if they sign a veteran soon. Considering where they'll be picking from, the class they'll be picking from and recent history, however, that selection probably won't feel like a hit for at least a few seasons.
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