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Niles Paul Looks to Improve in Year Two at Tight End
- Updated: April 21, 2013
Last year, the Redskins made a bold move with a player that was thought to not fit the team’s plans at wide-out. The Redskins decided to move receiver Niles Paul to tight end in what would be his second season.
Paul reminded Coach Mike Shanahan of a former player of his who was almost the exact same size and who also made the same transition to tight end, Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe.
Moving a player who is 6-1 (deemed small by NFL standard) to tight end after playing most of his playing years (college,high school and first year) at receiver is not something that is done at a high success rate in the NFL. Paul had no choice but to learn how to block bigger players and learn different aspects of the Mike/Kyle Shanahan scheme.
To put in nicely, Paul was a work in motion the entire year. He participated in 241 of the franchises 1118 offensive snaps, his stats were minimal as he only had 8 receptions for 152 yards and one touchdown (although the TD was a wide open beauty against the Cowboys).
Paul seemed to have a small case of the dropsies as well, he was only targeted 15 times all year and had two drops and several balls that got away from him including one fumble. One thing he was vastly improving on by seasons end was returning kicks, as he did take over for troubled returner Brandon Banks.
Paul believes this year will be his year to show improvement. “I’m in meetings now and I’m doing better at knowing what I can do,” he said last week at Redskins Park. “Last year at this point I didn’t even know how to play tight end.”
“It was a learning process; I went through a lot of ups and downs,” said Paul, who was a fifth-round pick of the Redskins out of Nebraska in 2011. “I got better and this year and I’m hoping to improve a great deal and consider myself a true tight end in the NFL.”
Logan Paulsen played most of the snaps at tight end after Fred Davis went down with injury and Paul believes with Davis coming back they will have one of the best tight end groups in the NFL.
“With Fred being the dynamic player that he is and Logan showing that he can be such a great tight end, a starting tight end in the NFL, that sets the tone for what this tight end group can do.”
After a week of off-season voluntary workouts at Redskins Park, Paul believes that since the team is coming off of a successful season it has created a different mindset in the building.
“It’s a lot more competitive,” he said. “Not to say it wasn’t competitive last year. But this year it’s creating a different atmosphere, everybody wants to get better, everybody wants to be stronger, everybody wants to be faster.”
It still remains to be seen if Paul will be successful in his transition to NFL tight end, but one thing seems certain, he’s going to give it 110% of his effort.