With the season opener fast approaching, it’s time to put the Redskins’ depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming days, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.
Starter: Jordan Reed
Other roster locks: Vernon Davis, Niles Paul
On the bubble: Jeremy Sprinkle
How the tight ends compare:
To the 2016 Redskins: They will be at least as good as they were last year, perhaps better as Paul missed half of the season with a shoulder injury. The wild card is Sprinkle. If he can become a blocking TE who is a threat to catch some passes the Redskins could be significantly stronger here. Slightly to significantly better
To the rest of the NFL: Reed himself makes this an upper-echelon group. Many teams would love to have the luxury of Davis, who had over 500 receiving yards last year, as a backup. Top 5-10
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Biggest upside: Reed doesn’t have a 1000-yard season yet and he hasn’t made All-Pro. The latter might be tough to do considering all the votes that Gronk will get. But at age 27, Reed could have his best days ahead of him. And his best days could be very, very good.
Most to prove: Many thought that Paul might be a salary cap casualty given his $2.2 million cap hit and his 24 games missed over the past two seasons. He put that speculation to rest by having a great offseason and camp. Still, he is set to be a free agent next year and he must show the Redskins and the rest of the league that he can still contribute to wins.
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Rookie watch: Sprinkle played in a run-first offense at Arkansas but he did show some ability to catch the ball. He some good things in camp but he also showed he has a lot to learn. While he’s not a lock to make the roster it seems that he has done enough well that the Redskins won’t let a fifth-round pick go.
Bottom line: The Redskins rely on Reed to move the ball, perhaps too much. But as long as he is healthy the offense will move the ball. Contributions from the other two or three will be bonuses.
Jay Gruden on Niles Paul:
Niles has been one of the most impressive guys to me in camp. He's another guy, he's like Ryan Grant, in that we can ask him to do anything. He'll play in-the-core Y, we'll put him at fullback, he lines up outside. His speed looks where it was before the injuries. I mean, I think he's had an outstanding training camp so far. He's done so many different things. And that's one of the toughest positions – a tight end, the move tight end.