I got in touch with several writers on the college football blogs. I wanted to get their thoughts on the Redskins newest draft picks and ask a few more revealing questions about how these players fit on the team and their chances of making an impact either immediately or down the line. The first to respond was Eric Harris of Arkansas Fight regarding new Redskin TE Jeremy Sprinkle.
Cadillactica: Could you give us your impression of what the Arkansas coaches thought of Sprinkle while at Arkansas?
Eric Harris: Sprinkle was a four-year guy who improved every season. He started out behind Hunter Henry (Now with the Chargers) and did a very good job filling the role after he graduated. He's a very coachable player and the coaching staff loved his versatility. He missed his last game of his career for the much publicized Belk incident. That was more of an isolated incident than an indication of his character. He made a bad decision, and said all the right things afterward and appeared to be pretty remorseful about it. I doubt any character issues come up.
Cadillactica: Coach Jay Gruden has said he likes Sprinkle's versatility in that he can block and catch. Sprinkle may not see a lot of offensive snaps this year due to Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis being atop the TE depth chart but do you think he can solidify a spot as a backup TE and beat out other Redskins TEs on the bubble such as Niles Paul and Derek Carrier?
Eric Harris: He is every bit of 6'5" and he can go up and high-point the ball. He's a big target who could start out as a dangerous option in the red zone as he develops into a complete player. If he can show enough improvement in his run blocking I feel pretty confident he can be the third TE on the roster.
Cadillactica: This years draft was very deep at the TE position and Redskins selected Sprinkle in the 5th round after a mini-run on the position which saw Jake Butt, George Kittle, and Jordan Leggett being selected just a few picks before him. Could you make a case on if Sprinkle may or may not have a better career than those guys and why?
Eric Harris: Despite being a similar height and weight to those guys, Sprinkle measured a longer wingspan and bigger hands than those other tight ends. He's going to be a big target in the red zone. Throw in his route running ability and he can be a very dangerous option in the passing game. Arkansas' coaching staff loved getting him in space and hitting him with post and corner routes 10-15 yards down the field. Give him some time to learn some of the finer points of the game behind good TE's like Reed and Davis and he'll develop into a good NFL player.
Cadillactica: What would describe as his biggest strengths and weaknesses?
Eric Harris: His strengths were his route running and hands. Arkansas' OC Dan Enos loves utilizing the tight end in the passing game and Sprinkle was a perfect fit for that. He was sure handed and just about always did a good job of securing the catch and turning upfield for some more yards. The biggest thing he needs to work on is his consistency in the run game. He's got a high center of gravity so often he had a hard time getting leverage against Linebackers. If he can get better at lowering his pad level consistently he will improve a lot.
Cadillactica: Could you sum up his play in a single word or phrase?
Eric Harris: Clutch. I don't have the stats in front of me but it seemed like whenever Arkansas needed a third down conversion or a momentum-shifting play, Sprinkle was there. 3rd and 7? Sprinkle was there on a crossing route that got you nine. The video in this link has a good example of that. At about the 2:15 mark he has a great catch in OT against TCU when they had all the momentum in the world. That video also shows off his hands.
First, I want to thank Eric Harris for taking the time to respond my questions and put together the meat of this article with such great answers. This was my first time reaching out to co-write an article with writers from other blogs and it was amazing.
I think we can gather from Eric’s answers two things:
- Sprinkle is a versatile TE, one that can catch and block as well as a true red zone threat.
- He provided a security blanket of sorts at Arkansas but could also turn a big play.
Sprinkle’s future seems bright and he has the tools to develop into a starting caliber player in my opinion. As Eric said, give him a couple years behind Davis and Reed and he should be ready to step up when Davis finally hangs em up. He is sure handed and a physical player that should help with blocking the edge, convert 3rd downs, and score touchdowns as a Redskins for a while.