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Is Washington’s tight end unit overrated or underrated?

Breaking down the Commanders tight end position group

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Cleveland Browns v Washington Commanders Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Ron Rivera and Eric Bieniemy have been high on Washington’s tight end position group all off-season. Rivera mentioned that the position group had “vastly improved,” primarily due to the development of the younger players. Bieniemy, in his first season as the Commanders offensive coordinator, has an offense that is very friendly to its tight ends. For him, the tight ends have “stood out for all the right reasons,” and he likes the depth of the position.

It depends on who you ask if Washington’s tight ends are overrated or underrated. Locally, it is easy to understand why their tight ends are underrated, mainly because the position group was severely underutilized last season.

However, if you assess things from a national perspective, things are drastically different. National outlets like CBS Sports, PFF, PFN, and USAToday, the Commanders do not have a top 25 tight end or a top 25 position group in the NFL.

Looking at Washington’s tight ends, they each bring different strengths.

John Bates is Washington’s blue-collar tight end. Bates is Washington’s best blocking tight end. Bates’s route running and what he can do beyond the first level are limited, but Bates has trustworthy hands in the passing game and has proven to be a nice safety blanket for his quarterbacks.

Logan Thomas, who is now 18 months removed from his grade three ACL tear, is the aging veteran among the group. In 2022, it took Thomas some time to get reacclimated to the game from an athletic standpoint. In early October, he suffered a calf strain injury ahead of week five, keeping him inactive until week eight against the Indianapolis Colts. The month of December was much better for Thomas, though, as his straight-line speed became more noticeable on film, and he moved much more comfortably in open space. Thomas’s biggest strength to this team is, first, his overall hands and, secondly, his contested catch ability. He can also separate against zone coverage, which is an essential trait for offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy for his tight ends.

According to multiple beat reporters and coaches, Cole Turner has had two outstanding off-seasons. However, like Thomas, Turner battled the injury bug in 2022. Starting in training camp, he suffered a grade one hamstring injury in early August that sidelined him until October 9th. Shortly after, Turner suffered a concussion against the Green Bay Packers that kept him off the field until November 20th. With just ten games played and no training camp or preseason games to help Turner get acclimated, his development took a hit as a rookie. However, Turner did show moments on film that emphasized his strengths as a tight end. Turner is Washington’s more experienced route runner from a nuanced and athletic standpoint. Turner is capable of winning against man and zone coverage. He also could win against press coverage and off-zone or man. Nevertheless, Turner, just like Thomas, is a big-body tight end who is willing to put his body on the line in contested situations. Bieniemy can feature Turner in several alignments because of his strengths.

Curtis Hodges is the biggest question mark of the position group. Hodges had a lot of off-season buzz as an undrafted rookie last year. However, in practices and preseason, Armani Rodgers surged during the same time. An early September thigh injury and Rodgers’ training camp and preseason performance ultimately cost Hodges his chance to see the field as a rookie. Again, he will be competing this year to make the final 53 and earn backup reps behind Bates, Thomas, and Turner.

When looking at this position group objectively, as it stands today, does this position group sound more like a top 12 or bottom 12 unit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, whether they are an overrated or underrated group, and why.

Check out the latest Trap or Dive Podcast, where AJ, Dre, and myself break down the Commanders tight end position group. While the primary focus will be on Logan Thomas and Cole Turner, two key players in the group who could be essential in Eric Bieniemy’s offense, we dive into the unit’s collective strengths and weaknesses.

Make sure you are subscribed/following to stay updated on every episode. Be sure to leave a rating and review on Apple or Spotify!