INDIANAPOLIS--With Fred Davis recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon and not under contract for next season, the Redskins could choose to pursue a tight end in the draft.
The team does not possess a first round pick and has needs at safety, cornerback and tackle, as well. But if Davis and the salary-cap strapped Redskins cannot come to an agreement on a new deal, Mike Shanahan and Co. will have options - and this week's NFL Combine could prove pivotal in the process of identifying candidates.
One of those options is Rice’s Vance McDonald, a 6 foot 4, 262-pounder whom talent evaluators consider to be an athletic, vertical threat. In his final three seasons with the Owls, McDonald hauled in a combined 107 passes for 1,386 yards and 17 touchdowns.
McDonald is expected to be drafted in the second or third rounds.
“Absolutely,” the Texas native said when asked if he considers himself to be the top draft eligible tight end. “You have to approach it that way. You certainly have to carry that confidence with you.”
McDonald said he patterns his game after Falcons veteran Tony Gonzalez. He also has talked with the Texans’ James Casey, who starred at tight end for Rice in 2007 and '08.
“He uses his body so well,” McDonald said of Gonzalez. “He has great hands. I always want to be known to have great hands.”
Other tight ends expected to be drafted in late first – fourth rounds include: Zach Ertz (Stanford), Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame), Travis Kelce (Cincinnati), Gavin Escobar (San Diego State) and Jordan Reed (Forida).
If Shanahan does not use a high pick on a tight end, it’s possible the team will pursue one in the later rounds. The only tight ends currently on the Redskins' roster are Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul and Chris Cooley, whose future in Washington is unclear.
An intriguing prospect who could be available in the fifth-seventh rounds is Maryland’s Matt Furstenburg, who recorded 59 receptions for 760 yards and five touchdowns in 2006.
Furstenburg said he looks up to the Ravens’ Dennis Pitta.
“He’s just so smooth,” Furstenburg said. “Everything – his routes, catching, just everything.”