The Redskins surprised fans this past April when they drafted Florida Gator tight end, Jordan Reed, with their third round pick in the draft. Most fans felt the Redskins would go secondary immediately with their first two picks, but with injury concerns amongst other things at tight end, the Reed selection was a smart move.
Heading into training camp, one of the key battles to look for is the starting role at tight end. With tight end being one of the deepest positions for the Redskins, there is no guarantee for a starting role with the amount of talent available.
Last season, it appeared that Roy Helu and Evan Royster would be battling for the starting running back role, but a sixth round pick came in to steal the job. That same thing could happen this year with Jordan Reed.
Fred Davis is coming off an Achilles injury that, more times than not, happens to bother players for the rest of their careers. While Fred Davis would ideally regain his position starter, as he is one of the near-elite level tight ends in the league and has been a constant producer for the Redskins, his injury raises major concerns.
Niles Paul failed to impress during 2012 at the tight end position, but it’s important to note that it was the first time in his career that he had changed positions. Mike Shanahan expects that Paul will indeed be a bigger producer this year as last season was his transition year, but will it be enough to start?
Logan Paulsen, though effective as both a blocker and receiver last year, has never been looked at as a starter in the NFL. That’s not to say he doesn’t possess the skill to cause disruptions for defenders, as he did that multiple times last year, but odds are he won’t be a starter.
That leaves Jordan Reed, the rookie who has been compared to that of New England’s Aaron Hernandez. Though Reed ran a similar 40 time to Logan Paulsen (4.78), his game speed is much faster, and in the words of Mike Shanahan, is “faster” than Hernandez, who ran a 4.6.
Besides speed, which is very similar to that of Fred Davis, Reed’s most lethal weapon happens to be his precision route running. During his time at Florida, he managed to cause mismatches within the secondary as well as off the line, due to way he runs and comes out of breaks.
The other big traits that Reed possesses–much like the wide receivers on this team–is that he is able to both make catches over his shoulder and get those ever-important yards after that catch (a crucial component for Mike Shanahan players).
Having another player with almost identical abilities as Fred Davis could be one of the biggest threats for the Redskins this season on offense. Mike Shanahan hinted at the fact that this gives the Redskins the ability to run multiple tight end sets, much like those in New England which has killed NFL defenses for quite some time. Mixing that in with the read option could make this offense nearly unstoppable.
With the way Reed runs routes with speed, a healthy Fred Davis could find himself pushed out of the starting role in 2013.