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.
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