The Washington Redskins are set to have one of the league’s deepest depth charts at the tight end position in 2017. The team is set to possibly carry up to four tight ends this season as Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Derek Carrier, Jeremy Sprinkle, and Manasseh Garner will battle it out for possible roster spots in the coming months leading up to preseason.
The obvious guy to keep the main focus on is Jordan Reed. Reed’s athletic ability is similar to an NBA player with his stutter-steps and spin-moves that keep opposing defenses missing over and over again. The guy is simply unstoppable when he’s on the field and healthy. For Washington, that’s just the problem as Reed has missed 18 games since being drafted by the Redskins in 2013. In that same amount of time, he’s recorded 248 receptions for 2,602 yards and 20 touchdowns, in only 46 games (starting 23) as a professional. With the way head coach Jay Gruden likes to use his tight ends, it’s highly important for the Redskins to have a strong second and possibly third option at the position.
In 2016, Vernon Davis had a career resurgence after struggling in previous NFL seasons. The 33-year old Davis made 44 receptions (on 59 targets) for 583 yards and two touchdowns in his first season with his hometown burgundy and gold team. With Reed’s durability in constant question, Davis’ role with Washington is slated in cement. The 11-year veteran is still lighting fast and extremely talented.
Niles Paul was well on his way to big things in 2015 and then he broke his ankle. He went from starting tight end with a future, to Redskins special teams player and part-time fullback. It’s a road long traveled for the 27-year-old Paul, who has faced adversity ever since being drafted by Washington and then switching positions from wide receiver to tight end. Paul has taken it all in stride and made the best of things becoming one of the team’s best players on coverage teams. While he may not be in the mix to start, Paul will be in the conversation to make the roster because of all the things he does for the team as a whole.
Rookie tight end Jeremy Sprinkle (6-5, 252 pounds) is an inline tight end option that can shift out to receiver if needed, but not as well as Reed. Sprinkle could be viewed as the long-term backup to Reed in the future. He’s a good blocker and can catch the ball making him the almost perfect “Y” tight end with size and speed to match. It will be interesting to see if Washington goes with three tight ends or four this season, and which combination of guys they’ll use. Sprinkle is probably too good of a prospect to chance putting on the open free agency market and then bringing him back for the practice squad. He wouldn’t clear waivers so the Redskins could sign him to the practice squad, someone would snatch him up and Washington would have wasted a draft pick in the process.
Derek Carrier and Manasseh Garner both can be viewed as camp bodies who could be on the team’s practice squad. Carrier has had some issues with injuries after showing flashes subbing in for Reed a couple seasons ago. He’s another in a long line of versatile tight ends who are athletic enough to shift out to receiver. Garner has been on multiple rosters (five NFL teams) but has never been on a gameday roster since joining the league in 2015.
The main question fans of the burgundy and gold should have is can Jordan Reed stay healthy? If the answer to the question is yes, it won’t matter who is on the roster or behind him on the depth chart.
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