Jordan Reed had an interesting career at The University of Florida; he started out as a quarterback under Urban Meyer and actually looked good in some limited opportunities but was moved to wide receiver. He moved to a hybrid running back/receiver position before moving to tight end/H-back when Will Muschamp became the head coach. While Reed started out a little slow at tight end due to some injury issues, he eventually became one of the top receiving threats on Florida’s offense in his junior year. Reed showed game changing athletic ability and showed that he could adjust to the football and make difficult catches. He has had a little trouble blocking, and ran a pretty limited route tree. Reed also reportedly had some attitude issues at Florida, and was supposedly benched in the 2013 Sugar Bowl as a result. Reed was drafted by the Redskins in the third round of the NFL Draft, so he will go into a good quarterback situation with Robert Griffin III under center, who can get him the ball, and head coach Mike Shanahan’s system is very friendly to athletic tight ends like Reed.
Reed’s career for the Gators was on and off due to some injuries and character issues, but when Reed was able to play he was a dynamic playmaker. Florida’s receivers were not impressive during the 2012 season and Reed was pretty much the designated #1 receiver for quarterback Jeff Driskel. Reed led Florida in receiving with 559 yards and three touchdowns on 45 receptions. Some of the receptions that Reed made were downright incredible as passes would come in at awkward angles forcing Reed to twist and contort his body to adjust to the football. Reed showed off some athleticism that may not have showed up at the Combine, where he ran a 4.72 forty yard dash time, and showed that he could be a consistent receiving threat for a team even if the quarterback was not making perfect throws.
Reed has the ability to be used at a variety of spots along the offensive formation, either as an inline or detached tight end, H-Back, and even occasionally at running back. Reed is an adequate blocker when he is able to ride the shoulder and drive, and he is able to reset and get after his assignments in the running game if he misses the first time. Reed is very smooth in breaks on outside braking routes as well. Reed is at his best with the ball in his hand as he makes moves in space like an agile running back, consistently making defenders miss with cuts, jukes, and pure speed. Reed has a very good mix of hands catching and letting the ball into his body against tight coverage.
Reed is a perfect fit for the Washington Redskins, he will be able to be a depth player and perhaps a spot starter as Fred Davis is back for at least one more year. The Redskins have plenty of other options around Reed so he will not be forced to be the top guy coming in as he was at Florida. Look for him to start to break out in the latter half of the season as Fred Davis is coming off of an injury, and by that time he will have been able to gain chemistry with Griffin. Reed could potentially match the statistics he put up at Florida this past season even as a backup, as he has better players around him at receiver and quarterback. The Redskins use the pistol and read option offenses which are two perfect fits for Reed, as he can be used as an H-Back and then move to either blocker or as a receiver out of the backfield, as well as in the slot. He likely will not see time as an in-line TE as he is too small to be effective at the pro level.
Reed is a good tight end right now but still has some things he needs to work on to make his game complete. Reed’s biggest problem is his blocking, he has inconsistent footwork, and this can cause him to fall down when trying to block. He can get too tall when trying to block his opponent’s shoulders, and can lose his positioning. Reed also needs to work on his anticipation when he is asked to block at the second level. Reed’s route tree is a bit limited, and his hips can tend to get too high on certain routes. If Reed can work on his blocking and on expanding his route tree, he can be a Pro Bowl caliber tight end.
With Reed gone, Kent Taylor is the current favorite to be the starting tight end for the Gators, and he has some big shoes to fill, as it is hard enough to replace a starting tight end, but also replace the team leader in receptions. Taylor was the #1 tight end coming out of high school in 2012, and was thought to be one of the better recruits coming out of the state of Florida. Taylor had a touchdown in the Sugar Bowl against Louisville, but really saw almost no action in the season prior to that. Taylor likely won’t be the leader in receptions like Reed was, but will be a serviceable tight end.
Jordan Reed had an excellent career for the Gators and was one of the better tight ends along with Aaron Hernandez we have seen from Florida. It is hard enough to replace a tight end, but to also replace the team leader in receptions will be a tough task for the Gators. If Reed can work on his blocking technique and footwork, and work on expanding his route tree, Redskins fans will appreciate him as much as Gator fans did.