Joker, or “move” tight ends are becoming very prominent in the NFL, and for good reason. The league is all about creating mismatches, and these Joker TE’s, who are really just jumbo wider receivers, can do just that.
The Redskins may have the worst tight end group in the entire NFL. They are led by the uninspiring Jeremy Sprinkle, who is in the last year of his rookie deal, and likely won’t be retained by the team going forward. Behind him is converted Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas(29 next month), who to date has a career 35 receptions for 317 yards and just two career touchdowns and Richard Rodgers, who the Skins signed as a free agent in March.
There is some promise for the future in undrafted free agent Thaddeus Moss. Moss fills the more traditional in-line tight end position, mainly due to his stellar blocking skills and the fact he could double as an H-back in Scott Turner’s diversified offense. Still, Moss is just a rookie, and may take a year or two to develop.
The Redskins are in a rather unique position at wide receiver. Their top options are either rookies or second year vets with limited NFL exposure. The one constant is second year wideout Terry “F1” McLaurin, who enjoyed one of the most successful rookie NFL seasons the Redskins have ever seen. Aside from F1, there are a lot of question marks and a lot of bodies fighting to make a name for themselves.
Steven Sims Jr. and Kelvin Harmon, who both saw extensive action in 2019 as rookies, seem to have some potential in the slot and at X respectively. Antonio Gandy-Golden, who was selected in the fourth round in this past draft, is expected to compete with Harmon for playing time opposite McLaurin on the outside. Rookie running back/receiver Antonio Gibson can be deployed all over the offensive formation in order to create mismatches for Turner to exploit. Third year man Trey Quinn has some position versatility, but he should be relegated to reserve duty at this point. Undrafted rookie Isaiah Wright(Temple) and veteran Cody Latimore round out the top half of this group.
Taking a closer look at Antonio Gandy-Golden could lead to some intriguing options for the Redskins moving forward.
Gandy-Golden came out of Liberty, where he posted back-to-back 70+ reception, 1000+ yard seasons in 2018 and 2019. He was part of the deepest wide receiver draft class I can remember in 2020, and was likely a third round talent who dropped because of depth.
During the pre-draft process, Gandy-Golden weighed upwards of 225 pounds, and at 6’4”, he has the frame to carry even more. His 40(4.6) and three cone(7.33) show a jumbo receiver who may have problems creating separation on the outside, however his strength(22 reps at 225), vertical(36”), 32 inch arms and ability to bully smaller defenders may profile nicely to a joker tight end working out of the slot.
The scouting report on Gandy-Golden(from Kyle Crabbs at TDN), reads like this:
- Does not showcase dynamic suddenness at the top of route stems and won’t snap off clean.
- Had some impressive plays on the football in 2019, plucking the ball away from his frame with one hand while still engaged in hand fighting at the catch point.
- He’s a big body and knows value of using his frame to maximize his margin for error.
- Strength is present and his field vision allows reps where he’ll break against pursuit (Syracuse). He needs a runway to get himself up to top speed and as a result he’ll have defenders close on his position once he finds himself in the open field.
- Still a bit of a work in progress as far as manipulating defenders to optimize his windows — he instead will play through contact but does so at the expense of optimal separation consistency.
- Some stiffness is present in lateral scenarios or when he needs to gear down suddenly and change directions.
Some of these areas for improvement that Crabbs mentions above can be masked as a Joker or Move tight end. First, the 4.6 40 is ideal for the position, and the 7.33 3-cone is not nearly as concerning when running a tight end route tree versus that of a wide receiver. Second, his lack of suddenness and crisp breaks at the top of his stem can be maximized against linebackers and safeties, rather than outside corners. Finally, getting him on the field at the same time as Harmon, will allow for two bigger-bodied targets for Haskins to take advantage of.
Now, I think for this to work, it would be prudent for Gandy-Golden to bulk up to at least 235-240 pounds. That would require at least 12-15 pounds of additional weight. It’s not easy asking any player to add good weight without losing some of their athleticism, but this may help him to make a bigger impact in an area of great need for the team. Let it also be noted that he was a very good blocker in college, who would often bully smaller defenders. It will not come as easy in the NFL, especially against safeties and linebackers, but the willingness and desire are there.
Here are some other Joker TE’s in the NFL:
Trey Burton: 6’2” 238
Evan Engram: 6’3” 240
Gerald Everett: 6’3” 240
Jordan Reed: 6’2” 242
David Njoku: 6’4” 245
Jacob Hollister: 6’4” 245
Jonnu Smith: 6’3” 248
Even without a pure tight end designation, Antonio Gandy-Golden could be used primarily from the slot, where his big body, long arms, physicality and blocking ability could all be an asset to this new offense.
Would Antonio Gandy-Golden be a good Joker TE for the Redskins?
This poll is closed
Yes - If he can add some weight to his frame
No - Keep him as an outside receiver and let him compete for a starting spot
I like him as a jumbo slot receiver