Although the fan and media conversation about the NFL draft focuses on needs for the coming season, the draft is more about the long-term future than the short-term outlook. Between now and the draft we’re looking at how the Redskins are set up for the long haul at each position on the field. Today, we look at the tight end position.
The Redskins do not have an immediate issue at tight end but it would be foolish to think that there is no need at the position in the longer term.
The starter will be Fred Davis. At the age of 27 he should be entering his prime NFL seasons. He could gain 1000 yards receiving year in and year out for the next several seasons for the Redskins and make a Pro Bowl or two.
But that future is hardly set in stone. Davis must recover from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered last October. The reports have been so far, so good but we won’t really know how things are progressing until he gets out on the field with pads on. That will not happen until training camp. For the rest of his career Davis will have the threat of a one-year suspension hanging over his head should he again run afoul of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. On top of all that, he is with the Redskins on a one-year contract.
Logan Paulsen started the last nine games of the season after Davis went out. Every team needs players like Paulsen, who works hard and is willing to do anything. The team did win its last seven games with Paulsen playing nearly every snap so he certainly is capable of handling the position. But in a passing league you’d like to have a more dynamic passing game threat lining up at tight end.
Niles Paul is going into his third NFL season and his second as a tight end. It remains to be seen if he can ever be a starter or even a regular contributor. He had a lot of issues with drops and that will have to be fixed if he is going to play a major role on anything besides special teams.
You might look at some of the uncertainty surrounding the position and think that the team could well spend a draft pick at the position. And it would not be shocking to see the Redskins take a tight end at almost any point during the draft.
One reason the Redskins might bypass taking a tight end is that they have a project on their roster. DeAngelo Peterson spent last year on the practice squad. We did not see much of him on the field. After he went undrafted out of LSU last year, the Rams signed him. They released him at the end of camp and the Redskins signed him to the practice squad.
Peterson (6-3, 243) needs some work on his blocking but in the passing game he can create mismatches with linebackers. He is not a perfect prospect but they might look at the tight ends on the board in, say, the fifth round and decide that they would rather try to develop Peterson than spend a pick