Could tight end talent be too good for the Redskins to pass up at 34?

Could tight end talent be too good for the Redskins to pass up at 34?
May 4, 2014, 11:00 am
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Although many believe that the Redskins could spend any draft pick at any position besides quarterback, a selection of a tight end with their top pick would certainly generate some controversy. The team has an emerging star at the position in Jordan Reed and a reliable backup in Logan Paulsen. With other needs on both sides of the ball, could the Redskins justify taking a tight end with the 34th pick in the draft?

The flip side is that there are legitimate questions about Reed’s ability to stay healthy. A quad injury sidelined him during the offseason program last year, a knee injury kept him out of a game early in the season and a concussion sidelined him for the final six games of last season.

Paulsen is a good blocker and very good player to have on the roster due to his special teams play but the offense does lose a dimension when he is the starter. Playing with the first-team offense in the last seven games of the season (Reed went out early in the Week 11 Eagles game), Paulsen caught 15 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a significant drop off from Reed’s production.

Even if Reed remains healthy, a pass-catching tight end would not have to ride the bench waiting for an injury to happen. Jay Gruden got 85 catches for 900 yards and six touchdowns out of the combination of Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert last year.

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But the primary reason the Redskins could end up getting a tight end with their top draft pick is that one could be the best player on the board when they pick. There are two who rate as early second-round picks. One is Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington. He’s 6-6, 271 and a former basketball player for the Huskies. He can block, run away from defenders and run through tackles. A DUI conviction based on a single-car accident pushed his stock down to where the Redskins could grab him.

The other potential high second-round pick is Jace Amaro of Texas Tech. He has good size at 6-5, 265 but he wasn’t asked to block much in college so his skills there are suspect. The production is there with 106 catches for 1352 yards for the Red Raiders in 2013. There is talk that he could be a first-round pick so the Redskins could get very good value by taking him early in the second round.

There is no question that the Redskins have other needs and many could be considered more pressing. But at pick No. 34 you have no control over how the draft unfolds and who is left on the board when you are on the clock. Reaching for need rather than taking the best available player is never a good draft strategy, especially when you can get some productivity out of that best player on the board.

If the Redskins do want a tight end they might not have the luxury of waiting until later. The pool of available talent is shallow and the Giants, Bills, Steelers, Seahawks, Packers, Chiefs, Falcons and Jets have some degree of tight end need. The better players will be gone quickly so if the Redskins believe that tight end is a need they will need to act early.

The chances are that the Redskins will go in another direction at the top of the draft this year and go with what they have at tight end. Their depth is adequate there and the upgrading at the position will probably wait for another draft. But a tight end at 34 not completely out of the question if the talent relative to the other players available is just too good to pass up.