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Making the Leap, No. 12: Redskins' Jordan Reed

Around The League will profile the top 25 players we see Making the Leap in 2014. No. 12 on the list: Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed.

Why Jordan is on the list


A hard truth gleaned from the unenviable task of 2013 Redskins tape study: Robert Griffin III trusted only two men when throwing the football. One was Pierre Garcon, an established talent who led the NFL with 113 receptions. The other was Reed, a rookie third-round pick who developed in hyper speed.

Reed is often compared to a pre-incarceration Aaron Hernandez for a reason. He possesses many of the same tools that once made the former Patriots tight end a rising star. Reed has speed, power and soft hands -- the big three for the modern-day pass-catching tight end. He's a strong route-runner and capable blocker who doesn't shy away from contact. His unusual athleticism makes him a movable threat.

Reed didn't just marginalize Fred Davis on the Redskins' offense; Davis was a brontosaurus and Reed the fiery meteor. He set franchise rookie records at tight end in catches (45) and yards (499) over just nine games. Reed had 32 catches from Week 6 to Week 11, eight more than any tight end in football. Then he suffered a concussion on November 17 and disappeared.

If Reed can stay on the field, he's trending upward as one of the league's top young playmakers.

Obstacles


About that disappearance. Reed's concussion -- likely suffered on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Eagles linebacker Casey Matthews -- was the fourth of Reed's career dating back to college. Reed suffered several setbacks in his attempt to return from the injury before being shut down in December. Not helping matters was Reed's subsequent admission he hid a previous concussion from team doctors.

"I was in a bad spot for a long time," Reed told The Washington Times last month. "I started to get a little scared after about two months -- like, 'Maybe I'm going to be like this forever,' ... But it ended up going away."

Reed hasn't played the game at full speed with contact since he was hurt. We don't know if Reed will be able shake off his next big hit. Neither does he.

2014 expectations


Reed did most of his damage as a rookie in the middle of the field with Garcon earning his money on the outside. The offseason acquisition of DeSean Jackson -- one of the game's preeminent vertical threats -- should turn the middle of the field into the soft underbelly of opposing defenses. More options for RGIII isn't necessarily a bad thing for the tight end.

"I feel like we've got a whole bunch of targets on offense that Rob can throw to and I feel like the defense is not going to be able to double-team or anything like that with so many weapons," Reed said. "I think I've got a chance to get open a lot."

The Redskins are primed for a bounce-back season (on offense anyway), and Reed's presence is a major reason why. Reed developed quickly as a rookie, and we project continued growth in his second season. A 70/1,000/8 slash line isn't crazy talk. Stay healthy, kid.

In the latest episode of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys discuss Rob Gronkowski's comeback and Cordarrelle Patterson's potential rise in '14.

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