2020 Position Previews: Tight End
Tight End has been one of the strongest position groups in recent years due to a combination of talent, development and depth. Washington enters the 2020 season with a legit 1st-Team All-Pac 12 candidate at tight end but unproven yet talented players filling the depth.
Tight end was strongly productive over the past two years and especially last season.
Washington lined up an average of almost 2 TE per play and the tight end was targeted on 13.2% of all snaps. Also, on pass plays, we targeted the TE 31.1% compared to 17.5% of pass plays in 2018.
I made this chart using the excellent data from Max Vroom here.
Last season, having a strong 1-2 punch at TE was negated somewhat by the poor play from the wide receivers as well as the continued deterioration in the run game.
The loss of Hunter Bryant, a TE who could stretch the field will have to be made up with better play from the wide receivers, and we do anticipate they will eat into the targets the tight ends had in 2018.
As an aside, in 2017, the tight ends were targeted on 19% of pass plays and they generated 10.8 yards per target. In 2016, TEs were targeted 11.8% of pass plays and in 2015, 22.9% of pass plays. When you have a TE who can stretch the field (like a Hunter Bryant or Joshua Perkins in 2015), the TEs will be targeted more.
Hence, for 2020 I’d expect the TEs to be targeted somewhere between the 2018 and 2016 numbers which, again, were 12% and 18% (rounding).
The question is who will be the #2 tight end?
Cade Otton has steadily improved and has an all around game. He has great hands, he can block and he is capable of gaining yards after the catch. He has a legit shot to be the best tight end in the league.
Walk-on Jack Westover, who was awarded a scholarship, lined up mostly as a fullback or an H-Back. He doesn’t possess the physical talent of sophomore Devin Culp or true freshman Mark Redman.
Culp had a tough go last year as he missed a block on a critical 4th down against BYU and similarly wasn’t able to come up with a big catch on a key 4th down against Utah before halftime.
However, he has worked hard on and off the field. Last year he made the Pac-12 academic honor roll and he has now slimmed down to 6’3 245 lbs. In high school he was used on some run plays as well as kick returns. He also played basketball. So he’s athletic and physically in the mold of a Hunter Bryant or Joshua Perkins.
Max Vroom notes that Culp played significantly more snaps in the Apple Cup and Las Vegas Bowl.
Look for true freshman Mark Redman to contribute as well. At 6’6 245 Redman is a heck of a prospect. He committed to Washington just six weeks after Alabama offered him. Rivals had Redman as the 7th best TE prospect while 247 had him as the 15th best TE prospect. He has size, good hands, length and can create seperation.
Former USC tailback Petros Papadakis, who is always worth listening to when he’s on with Softy has absolutely raved about Redman.
Culp could be a candidate for most improved player and Redman is definitely going to play.
With the season being so short, can we count on Culp and Redman to make much of an impact? How effective can they be? I’m not sure, I’m just raising the question. In any case, the present and future at tight end remains very bright.