A little over a year ago, the Redskins decided to move Niles Paul, who was going into his second NFL season, from wide receiver to tight end. That meant learning how to block closer to the middle of the field, where the big bodies roam, and a whole new set of pass patterns and accompanying reads.
Paul was a work in progress all year long. He played 241 of the team’s 1118 offensive plays, a rather light workload considering that starting tight end Fred Davis went out for the season early in the seventh game of the season. In fact, Paul averaged more snaps per game in the six games before Davis went out (14.5) than he did in the 10 after that (11.6). His stat line was a very mundane eight receptions for 152 yards and one touchdown.
He also had some issues with drops. Pro Football Focus counted two for Paul and a few more also got away from him. That is a lot considering he was targeted just 15 times.
Paul believes that he’ll have a better handle on things, literally and figuratively, this year. “I’m in meetings now and I’m doing better at knowing what I can do,” he said last week at Redskins Park. “Last year at this point I didn’t even know how to play tight end.”
“It was a learning process; I went through a lot of ups and downs,” said Paul, who was a fifth-round pick of the Redskins out of Nebraska in 2011. “I got better and this year and I’m hoping to improve a great deal and consider myself a true tight end in the NFL.”
Logan Paulsen started at tight end after Davis went out and Paul believes that with Davis coming back they have one of the strongest tight end groups in the league.
“With Fred being the dynamic player that he is and Logan showing that he can be such a great tight end, a starting tight end in the NFL, that sets the tone for what this tight end group can do.”
After a week of offseason workouts at Redskins Park, Paul believes that the fact that the team is coming off of a successful season has created a different mindset in the building.
“It’s a lot more competitive,” he said. “Not to say it wasn’t competitive last year. But this year it’s creating a different atmosphere, everybody wants to get better, everybody wants to be stronger, everybody wants to be faster.”