Redskins: Full Position Breakdown and Depth Chart Analysis at Tight End
Given new head coach Jay Gruden's love for tight ends, the position is a critical piece of the Redskins' offensive makeup, and it should help fuel Washington in a (hopefully) rebounding 2014 season.
Here's an early look at the Redskins' situation at tight end—where each guy falls on the depth chart and their projected contribution.
With one of their final two picks in last April's draft, the Redskins added Ted Bolser out of Indiana—a sizable tight end with some underrated versatility.
The Redskins didn't exactly need a tight end in the draft, but taking a flyer late made plenty of sense. Bolser is listed at 6'5", 257 pounds and has experience lining up in different alignments including inline, split and in the backfield.
There are a handful of good reasons why Indiana's all-time leader at tight end lasted until the final round of the draft, as well as why some projected him as a free-agent option following the seven rounds.
Despite his height and weight, Bosler isn't a long athlete, and his speed leaves more to be desired. Additionally, although he provides a large target for the quarterback, Bosler has small hands that wouldn't best be described as automatic.
Not a surprise here, but Bosler is a project and likely a practice-squad player at best this season. His size may be intriguing, but his athleticism doesn't boil over and he's not an effective blocker at this stage in his career.
Once upon a time, there was a project known as Niles Paul.
A 6'1" receiver drafted out of Nebraska in the fifth round in 2011, by the end of his rookie year, Paul was packing on the pounds he was instructed to and making the switch to tight end. Then-head coach Mike Shanahan was the lead scientist.
Shanahan is no more, of course, but Paul as a tight end remains. And while he wasn't given much playing time at his new position over the past two seasons, Paul was a key piece for the Redskins' special teams, working both as a returner and on coverage.
With Jay Gruden now in charge, is it possible that Paul—who has a decent pair of hands and plays with an attitude—will get more looks at tight end? Maybe.
At least with Gruden running the offense, his chances improve. Gruden likes athleticism at the position and guys who can offer both blocking and catching. Although Paul still has room to improve, his agility and versatility (mostly in terms of where he's able to line up) would seem like traits Gruden covets in his tight end receiving options.
Paul is a valuable guy on the Redskins roster, if not just for special teams alone. But where he saw less time at tight end behind Logan Paulsen in past years, I think there's a chance he pushes for more reps on offense with Gruden running the show.
Originally signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2010 draft, Logan Paulsen has served as the No. 2 tight end over the past two seasons. In 2012, after then-starter Fred Davis went down with an injury, Paulsen stepped in with 25 grabs and 308 yards. Then, last season, Paulsen hauled in 28 catches for 267 yards and three touchdowns.
At 6'5", 264 pounds, Paulsen has the size you look for in a tight end, and he has has shown hands by coming up with big grabs in even bigger spots over the past couple of seasons. Although he may not be the most consistent of hand-catchers, Paulsen is a nice safety valve for the quarterback in short and intermediate situations.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Paulsen graded dead last on the Redskins' roster last season in terms of run blocking. And when it came to pass protection, he wasn't much better, finishing second to only right guard Chris Chester as the team's worst. So yes, maybe some room for improvement in that department, but Paulsen is here as the best blocking tight end currently on the team.
Paulsen is the favorite to retain his backup role, but he could face more competition from Niles Paul this offseason with a pass-happy coach now in charge.
Again, it's not that Paulsen can't provide a large target and able hands, but Paul can give you catches as well, in addition to better speed and elusiveness after the catch.
Following a brilliant rookie season, the hype surrounding 23-year-old Jordan Reed as he prepares for 2014 is warranted and deserved.
Yes, the injuries are a concern. But not enough to deflate the balloon. Not yet anyway.
When included in the offense last season, Reed flashed signs of elite talent. He demonstrated a natural ability to catch the football, making plays after the catch and showing off a combination of size and speed that creates easy mismatches.
Reed finished the season with 45 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns in just nine games.
This season, with a revamped receiving corps and a coach who likes his tight ends just as much as his wideouts, Reed is poised for a breakout season. Opposing defenses will be forced to pick their poison when looking to contain the Redskins' air attack, and Reed may be the guy whose numbers benefit most.
Not only is Reed the easy favorite to start at tight end for the Redskins, but he's also a favorite to be a focal point in Jay Gruden's offense.