Tight End Room Is Deep
In the NFL, it’s not enough to have a good starting lineup. That’s because, in the NFL, the difference between winning and losing often comes down to the quality of your depth once the injury bug strikes.
For Washington, tight end is by far the deepest position on the entire roster heading into training camp this year. That may be by design seeing as the team lost Logan Thomas, who is a major piece to the overall puzzle, to injury last year. Not to mention new Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz has a history of using the tight end position as his safety net.
The entire depth chart of the tight end position revolves around Logan Thomas’ ability to return from injury. That’s not to say the Commanders aren’t loaded at the position, because they are, it means until further notice this is Logan’s spot to lose.
Logan signed a three-year, $24 million contract extension with Washington last July.
In 21 starts with Washington, Thomas has pulled in 90 receptions for 866 yards and nine touchdowns. Most of that was recorded during the 2020 season as Thomas only played in six games during the 2021 season before being injured.
Thomas has been recovering from surgery on his ACL, MCL, and meniscus in both knees this offseason. The timeline of his rehab could make the depth chart at this position a little tricky to predict.
“I know the next question is probably timeline. Timeline for me: would love to be back for Week 1, that’s my goal,” Thomas said during minicamp. “If it doesn’t happen, I don’t feel right, feel like I got limitations, then I’ll come back when I’m ready…Week 1 would be great, if not, so be it.”
Last season John Bates was slung into a larger role than he originally envisioned when the team drafted him in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Bates ended up starting eight games pulling in 20 catches for 249 yards and one touchdown during his rookie campaign. The problem is, the main thing Bates brought to the field won’t show up on the stat sheet, but it is why Washington was so high on the tight end coming out of Boise State.
The main thing Ron Rivera and company love about John Bates is his ability to block. The great thing about that is the more targets he gets as a receiver, the better he gets in that department as well. His 12.5 yards a catch average ranked him among the best in the league at the tight end position in 2021.
If Logan Thomas starts the year on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) look for Bates to get the nod as the starting tight end in Washington heading into Week 1.
At 6-6, Cole Turner certainly has the length to play tight end in the NFL. The main thing he has that catches everyone’s eyes who sees him is that unreal catch-radius. He also possesses a great ability to track and adjust to the deep ball.
Of course, the next thing almost everyone sees is that he needs to hit the weight room. His biggest weakness is his lack of overall strength and ability to play through contact.
Make no mistake about it, this is not the guy you want at the tight end spot blocking for you, but what he should bring to the passing game should outweigh his blocking issues.
Antonio Gandy-Golden has already failed as a fourth-round NFL receiver, now he’ll get his chance to make the transition to tight end. In any other year, Gandy-Golden’s transfer to this position may have been given a certain level of patience. With the competition at the position this year, all bets are off.
If Gandy-Golden wants to seriously threaten for a roster spot at tight end, he has to find a way to stand out above the last two names on this list and then hope for the coaching staff to keep four at the position. His speed should give him an edge at this spot instead of being considered average or worse at receiver.
What Gandy-Golden does bring to the table is his ability to go up and get those 50-50 contested catches while having a great catch-radius as well. Which should make him a great redzone target if he continues to develop the other areas of weakness in his game, including poor route running and drops.
Sammis Reyes is a physical freak with muscles on top of muscles. The problem is, he’s still developing as an NFL tight end at a time when he needs to be progressing at a higher level.
Reyes’s issues are not of his own making. Other NFL tight ends have perfected their craft over several years and hone in on certain areas of expertise as professionals while Reyes is still in the opening stages of learning the position itself…which will take time.
Washington improved their depth at this position which means Reyes needs to get better at catching the ball if he wants to make this roster. He showed last season that blocking is something he does well. Combine that with his decent play on special teams last year, and without more progression during camp, it may not be enough.
At 6-8, Hodges towers over most other players in the NFL and has some seriously athletic pass-catching traits coupled with an unbelievably wide wing span. He had some durability concerns in college, along with only pulling in 36 catches for 601 yards and four touchdowns in 21 games for the former wide receiver turned tight end.