The Redskins didn’t have a pressing need at tight end. They also made it clear they’re not just drafting for needs. So when Florida tight end Jordan Reed was available in the third round, they pounced.
Washington selected Reed, a quarterback turned tight end, with the 85th overall pick. Reed started 25 games at tight end and one at quarterback for Florida.
“He has that great ability to make people miss,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “When he has the ball in his hands he can do things with the ball that are very athletic, something a lot of tight ends can’t do. We weren’t looking for a tight end, but when he was there we couldn’t pass him up.”
“It’s incredible man,” Reed said. “I couldn’t ask for a better situation. I’m blessed.”
Though the Redskins don’t appear to have an immediate need, they actually did have a desire for more help. Starter Fred Davis is on a one-year deal, coming off a torn Achilles’ tendon and one positive drug test away from a year-long suspension. Logan Paulsen is considered more of a run blocker and third tight end Niles Paul struggled in his first season after switching from receiver.
Enter the 6-foot-2, 243-pound Reed. He said the Redskins did not contact him before the draft, but they clearly liked him.
Reed finished his college career with 79 catches for 945 yards and six touchdowns. His versatility was evident in 2010 when he started four games and also lined up in the slot. He also rushed 77 times for 328 yards that season. He was timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.72 seconds. Shanahan, and others, have compared Reed to New England’s Aaron Hernandez.
“We feel [Reed] has those intangibles you’re looking for. He’s a lot like Hernandez. I’m not sure if Hernandez is that fast, but he has the ability to beat linebackers and defensive backs because he knows how to run routes. This guy is similar.”
His size does not equate to being a strong blocker. However, the Redskins often used Paul, for example, as a blocker on the move. That helped negate some size deficiencies. And they also used their tight ends to block coming out of the backfield. So it’s conceivable that Reed would not be asked to block along the line quite as much early in his career.
“He’s a real athletic kid,” said Russ Lande, the college scouting director of the Montreal Alouettes and the NFL Draft analyst for the National Football Post. “He’s not a big kid, but he’s quick and very quick at getting to full speed. He has deceptive speed. He has soft natural hands. He’s a real intriguing guy as a receiving option and you can use him around in different alignments. But he’s so little if he tries to block he’ll get knocked on his [butt] a lot. But he’s so natural catching the ball and moving in space. He does good things.”
The Redskins also have DeAngelo Peterson at tight end. Chris Cooley said earlier this offseason that he did not expect to hear from the Redskins unless something happened to one of their regulars during the season.
Paul is one of their best special teams players, but it could be that the Redskins will have to keep four tight ends for him to earn a spot. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for Shanahan.
“Niles has done a great job,” Shanahan said. “It’s always tough to go from receiver to tight end. I expect him to be a lot better. With four tight ends you can put a lot of pressure on a defense. You can dress five wide [receivers] or four wides with a guy who can go in either direction. It helps in special teams, it gives you the ability to do things. Some things we did last year he complements what we do. He’s a guy that can not only act as a tight end but run routes as a receiver.”
Reed was benched for his last game because of attitude issues, according to reports. Shanahan said they talked to coaches at Florida and weren’t worried about the situation. Shanahan has maintained close ties to the Florida program over the years.
As for Reed, he provided a self-scouting report: “I catch the ball well. I run good routes. I am a hard worker and I take pride in that. I’m going to work on becoming a better blocker and all-around player.”