The 2015 season has barely started and it has already been brutal to the Redskins tight end depth chart. Jordan Reed, who will never be confused as an epitome of health, has been watching most of training camp on the sidelines while two major players in the TE competition, Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen, have landed on IR with season ending injuries. Niles Paul had already passed Jordan Reed on the depth chart and it looked like his season to breakout after starting out hot in 2014 but alas, the cards did not fall that way.
A few days ago, reports came out that Personnel Executive Doug Williams was spotted near the San Francisco 49ers team and rumors began circulating about the Redskins being interested in one of the eight TEs the 49ers currently had on their roster. The 49ers ended up shipping TE Asante Cleveland to the Patriots and rumors of Redskins interest died down just in time for Scot McCloughan to trade for TE Derek Carrier. Initial reports had Redskins trading a 5th round pick for the unproven TE which had fans thinking the price was too expensive. When more details came out, explaining it was a conditional 5th round pick in 2017, fans calmed down a bit.
What did the Redskins get in new TE Derek Carrier? I took a look at the film from the 49ers first pre-season game vs. Texans. Derek Carrier didn't play until the second half and only played a handful of snaps. Here's a look at what I saw:
1. Here is Derek Carrier on a kickoff return. He reduces to the ball and turns up-field when he sees the kick returner bringing it out.49ers have a return right called and Carrier is part of the wedge to lead down the field (49ers flagged for illegal wedge). Carrier pancakes his man and the returner able to cut inside of him. Carrier is going to need to contribute on special teams in Washington too. 2. Here is Carrier run blocking. He has a combo block with the RT. Carrier does a good job helping seal the OLB inside and then releases to the second level to meet the crashing safety. The safety tries going around the block, outside, presumably to force the run back inside so Carrier takes his inside shoulder and begins driving him outside. The RB is running away from Texans LB #53 Max Bullough and tries to cut in between Carrier and the player he is blocking. The Texans rally to the ball. Carrier was making a good block but pursuit from other failed blocks caught up to them. [RELATED -- The Derek Carrier file: Meet the newest tight end 3. Here is Derek Carrier lined up on the left side as an in-line TE. This time Carrier is matched up on an OLB. The explosion forward from the OLB surprises Carrier and he immediately loses leverage; not a great base and no balance. Carrier gets desperate and pretty much hugs the defender; his arms wrapped all around him. Carrier throws his defender to the ground and you can see in this image the referee reaching into his pocket for the flag. He was penalized for holding. 4. On this play, the 49ers flex out Carrier wide and have him block for a quick smoke screen. Carrier does a good job engaging and getting the defender's outside shoulder. He needs to keep hands in a little bit to prevent holding flags. Carrier does get leverage though and gives the WR from outside the numbers to the sideline to work. While I'd like to see Carrier maintain this block a tad bit longer, he did his job in giving the WR ample room to work. WR just wasn't able to make a move on the CB. 5. We've now seen Carrier lined up in-line, flexed out, and in the backfield. On this play, he's blocking on a read-option. Instead of blocking, maintaining and driving like the earlier play, he does the pop/contact thing which just bounces the defender outside. This makes the runner bounce further outside as well. The defender doesn't make the tackle, but makes contact and forces the runner outside, ruining his angle and allows Texans to rally around the ball for no gain. 6. Here's an example of Carrier helping his quarterback. Carrier is lined up on right and has a speed out. Carrier is open right off the line of scrimmage but the quarterback looks to the other side of the field first. When the QB doesn't see what he is looking for, he begins rolling out to the other side of the field. On the scramble drill, Carrier heads up field. When Carrier realizes he isn't going to out run the coverage, he breaks down, shows his numbers, and works back towards the QB. Carrier makes the catch and gets out of bounds for a five yard gain.
Derek Carrier looks to be versatile and he's going to need to be. Considering the price they paid for him, and the injuries at the position, it appears he'll be asked to wear many hats for the Washington Redskins. As a former receiver, he certainly can fill the pass catching role. As far as blocking, he shows the effort and "want-to" but he has technique flaws that will need polishing. Joining the team towards the end of August puts him behind the 8-ball, but he's a player GM Scot McCloughan likes (visited Seattle pre-draft while McCloughan was in front office) and is banking on Carrier realizing some of his untapped potential.