Jordan Reed 'Making The Leap'

NFL.com's 'Making The Leap' series features Redskins TE Jordan Reed this week.

Jordan Reed's rookie season got many Redskins' fans excited about his future potential, and his ability to be used in a variety of positions on the field.  NFL.com's Dan Hanzus has listed Reed is No. 12 on his 'Making the Leap' list for 2014.  Reed has almost unanimously been picked by the sports writing community as the young Redskins player with the most potential to breakout this year.  Reed was already getting his name out, and defenses were taking notice after two productive games vs the Bears and Denver in Weeks 7 and 8.

Hanzus explains Reed's emergence in the Redskins offense last season.

Reed is often compared to a pre-incarceration Aaron Hernandez for a reason. He possesses many of the same tools that once made the former Patriots tight end a rising star. Reed has speed, power and soft hands -- the big three for the modern-day pass-catching tight end. He's a strong route-runner and capable blocker who doesn't shy away from contact. His unusual athleticism makes him a movable threat.

Reed didn't just marginalize Fred Davis on the Redskins' offense; Davis was a brontosaurus and Reed the fiery meteor. He set franchise rookie records at tight end in catches (45) and yards (499) over just nine games. Reed had 32 catches from Week 6 to Week 11, eight more than any tight end in football. Then he suffered a concussion on November 17 and disappeared.

Here's a snippet from James Dorsett's great article on Jordan Reed's rookie season with the Redskins.

Pro Football Focus:

Pro Football Focus is currently the most popular site for advanced football metrics. Just as many coaches do, they give a grade to every player on every play (grading system explained here). Let's see what the folks at PFF thought about Jordan Reed in 2013.

Jordan Reed's PFF Stats & Rankings (minimum of 25% of snaps played)
Overall Pass Run Block Pass Block
2013 Grades 10.3 5.9 1.9 0.7
2013 TE Rankings 5th 12th 8th 21st
Redskins TE Rankings (08-Present) w/ no snap restrictions 1st 3rd 4th 5th
Rookie TE Rankings (08-Present) 4th 2nd 10th 14th

Reed is one of only four tight ends (Gronkowski, Allen, Moeaki) to receive a top 12 overall, passing and run blocking grade in their rookie year. His passing and overall grades rank 2nd and 4th amongst rookie tight ends since 2008 (PFF has graded every game since 2008). His overall rating of 10.3 is the highest grade ever received by a Redskins tight end.

PFF also tracks every tight ends yards per route run (YPRR). This is quite possibly my favorite receiving metric because it really displays how well a TE or a WR produces relative to how many times they have the opportunity to actually run a route and get open. I took things a step further by compiling data on receptions per route run (RPRR) and touchdowns per route run (TDPRR). By now you probably get the point, and can guess how well Jordan Reed did.

Jordan Reed's Per Route Stats & Rankings (minimum 25% of targets required)
YPRR RPRR TDPRR
2013 Values 2.19 0.20 0.13
2013 TE Rankings 3rd 1st 13th
TE Rankings (08-Present) 14th 2nd 74th

Approximately 225 player seasons since 2008 are ranked here, and Reed's 2013 season finished in the top 15 of two categories. He is one of only 3 tight ends rookie tight ends to ever finish with a YPRR over 2.0 (Gronkowski and Graham). His 2.19 YPRR is the second highest ever recorded by a rookie (Graham). Eight of the thirteen (57%) YPRR seasons that rank ahead of Reeds belong to Gates, Gronkowski and Graham. He ranked 2nd in RPRR and finished just .001 behind Dallas Clark's 2009 season for the most receptions per route run. I need to stop for a second and collect myself here.

Wow, Jordan Reed was a rookie in 2013 and he did all of this! OK, I'm back, and I do realize that his TDPRR numbers weren't out of this world great. However, before we knock him too hard for that, we should consider that the Redskins didn't really spend much time in the red zone last year, and when they were there, they weren't the pass-happiest team. If Reed had more opportunities to produce there I think he would, because he has the best career RZ Target-to-TD conversion rate of all of the Redskins projected starters by a healthy margin. - James Dorsett

Reed's great start to his rookie year was cut short by a concussion, which he now admits was probably two concussions.

"Some games, I wasn’t being completely honest in telling them how bad [the symptoms] were, so that was kind of why I was able to come back [to practice] and then getting kicked out again," Reed said.

For Reed, those symptoms included severe headaches in the morning and at night, nausea, and an inability to sleep.

"I started to get a little scared after about two months – like, ‘Maybe I’m going to be like this forever,’ or something like that," Reed said. "But it ended up going away."

Staying healthy will be the difference between being a great TE, and a great potential TE.  NFL.com posted another article this week ranking the projected starters at Tight End in the league.  Chris Wesseling placed Reed in the Solid Starter category, but noted that he is primed to move to the next level.

Reed has the talent to join Cameron and Thomas in the next (level) tier if he can steer clear of concussions.

Looking at the upcoming season there is a lot of hope and expectation being put on Jordan Reed.  He was one of two receiving threats that Robert Griffin III trusted last season.  With the additions of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, a healthier RGIII, and a new offensive scheme, Reed should get plenty of opportunities to get open in space, and rack up significant yards.

Reed

Redskins-01_medium

Reed is also the tallest projected starting WR or TE on the team, and he will be looked at in the Red Zone.  Pierre Garcon struggled to score last season even though he broke the Redskins single season receptions record and also led the NFL in catches.

Expect to see this play attempted during the season:

Reed

2014 Expectations:

Reed did most of his damage as a rookie in the middle of the field with Garcon earning his money on the outside. The offseason acquisition of DeSean Jackson -- one of the game's preeminent vertical threats -- should turn the middle of the field into the soft underbelly of opposing defenses. More options for RGIII isn't necessarily a bad thing for the tight end.

"I feel like we've got a whole bunch of targets on offense that Rob can throw to and I feel like the defense is not going to be able to double-team or anything like that with so many weapons," Reed said. "I think I've got a chance to get open a lot." - Dan Hanzus

New Redskins Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay spoke about Reed's potential this year.

"He’s going be a key player in our offense," McVay told the media during minicamp. "He’s an elite route runner for the position, and he still competes with the toughness. He’s got great feet, so he can cover guys up in the run game."

Faster than most linebackers covering him and more physical than some cornerbacks, McVay said they’ll find ways to get Reed in favorable matchups.

"I think what we’ll try to do with him will maximize his skillset," McVay said. "He’s done a great job this offseason, so he’s in position to have a great year."

How good will Jordan Reed be this year?  He will have every opportunity to excel in this offense, and if he can also improve his blocking skills he can work towards some of the accolades and Ring of Fame inductions he has already received.  I expect a big season for him, but it all depends on him staying on the field.  Where do you expect Jordan Reed to rank in the league this year?

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