Why Jordan Reed can be best receiving TE behind Gronk if he stays healthy
On Thursday Jordan Reed signed a five-year, $50 million extension to remain Washington’s starting tight end for the foreseeable. So long as he can stay healthy, Reed has the potential to be the second-best young receiving tight end in the NFL behind only Rob Gronkowski over the next several years.
Reed was a third-round pick in 2013 and was impressive each of his first two years, but struggled to stay on the field. As a rookie he had the third-most yards per route run average at 2.19 behind only Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, and followed that up with a fourth ranking of 1.89 in his sophomore season. The only problem is he played in just 20 of a possible 32 games, and when he was healthy enough to play he was only on the field half the time. This led to back-to-back years with fewer than 400 snaps.
Reed followed this up with a breakout performance in 2015, when he was our third-highest-graded tight end in receiving at 94.3. His 2.45 yards per route run was not only the best for all tight ends in 2015, but the third-best for a tight end in our nine years of grading. Part of this was because he had 16 players miss tackles on him, which was tied for the most this year. His 11 touchdowns were tied for second-most. 2015 was also the season he stayed healthiest, only missing two games. His playing time also increased to over 80 percent of snaps in the majority of games.
While Reed can still play a traditional tight end role, he has been most dangerous when Washington moves him around to an outside or slot receiver. Nine of his 11 touchdowns came when Reed lined up in a receiver position. While he was dangerous on a lot of routes, he was most impressive on post routes, where he caught all eight passes thrown his way for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
From a pure production standpoint, Reed is worth the money he is earning. You would expect him to continue to improve and remain one of the best tight ends throughout the rest of his contract. However, there is a real injury risk associated with Reed, who has yet to play a full 16-game season. He’s had several concussions throughout his career. He’s on the path of a player who could retire early.
For the short term, it means Washington’s best receiver should be happy entering a season in which the team hopes to remain division champions. They were already four-deep at receiver heading into the offseason, with DeSean Jackson (80.1), Pierre Garcon (79.5) and Jamison Crowder (76.9), and then added TCU’s Josh Doctson in the first round of the draft. Washington’s offense will remain one of the more exciting in the league both in 2016, and potentially for years to come.