Monday, January 16, 2012

Evaluating The Redskins - Tight End

Defensive Line
Offensive Line

This was yet another position thought to be a huge strength for the Washington Redskins this year, but would be tested immensely as the year went on. Fred Davis seemed to have assumed the starting role at Tight End, while Chris Cooley played more at Tiger, which was a lot like his H-Back position Joe Gibbs drafted him as... a cross between a Fullback and a Tight End.

Chris Cooley: Cooley went down somewhat early in the year after breaking his hand, or a finger on his hand. Coaches shut him down because they believed his knee wasn't fully healed. Cooley had been playing primarily out of the backfield, even registering his first rush of his career (what's interested to me is that we just saw New England play Aaron Hernandez out of the Tiger position in their win over the Denver Broncos and he looked exceptional at it, so it could be a mark for future packages). Cooley didn't appear to be 100% at all this year, which was frustrating because the offense wasn't up to par either, although the team had more success when Cooley was around than when he wasn't. Cooley has been sidelined by injury and/or limited a lot in the past couple seasons, and appeared somewhat ineffective his first year in Shanahan's system (a system Cooley grew up following and loving). It will be interesting to see what they do going forward with Cooley, but evaluating the depth, I think they're best off sticking with him on the roster and in the 2-TE sets that both Mike & Kyle have spoken openly about since inheriting the roster. For what Cooley did in his limited action, I'd say he was average, and that's taking the injury into consideration.
Grade: C-

Fred Davis: Fred Davis came into this year in perhaps the best shape he has ever been in, and earned his job as starting Tight End on the Redskins. There still appear to be some issues with his hands, as he had a few drops early in the year, but Fred's ability to maneuver comfortably against zone-coverage finding soft spots left and right helped him haul in easier catches and display his dynamic ability to run after the catch. Fred didn't put up amazing touchdown numbers this year, but he was well on his way to competing with Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham as members of the 1,000-yards club. Fred's pursuit of the mark was cut short when he was suspended 4 games alongside Left Tackle Trent Williams. Fred registered career highs in receptions and receiving yards this year. Fred will be a free agent this offseason, but with his high promise, one has to believe that the Shanahans are willing to take the risk to re-sign Fred and let him perform with a quarterback and healthy offense which should help him maximize his production.
Grade: B+

Logan Paulsen: He had to come in when Cooley went down to play as the #2 TE, and got a few receptions but was mainly used to block. Logan had discipline problems on the field, suffering a few penalties (2 or 3 of which took points off of the board). He eventually started showing some promise as a route runner, and was good at getting position blocking on the edge, but his technique wasn't all crisp. With a little more experience, Logan could find himself in favorable position as he has the talent to be a contributor, and loves the chance to play, hopefully with experience he will learn to correct his mistakes and become a sure-hand in this offense.
Grade: D+

None of the other guys got extensive time... the Redskins utilized less TE sets and more formations focusing on 3-WR's and the spread late in the year after Fred Davis' suspension. Whether some of these young TE's that had to be signed to fill the mandatory roster count work out and make the team next season, is yet to be seen or determined. There's some promise in them though, so the decision makers might have to make the favorable decision of evaluating tough competition. But my money would be on the Redskins going in with a similar TE group next year (perhaps without Mike Sellers). The grade of the entire group is an average C...

Next Up: Wide Receivers

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