Welcome back to The Burgundy and Gold Report. The unheralded East-West Shrine Gamer is set to begin tomorrow and the game features a few potential mid-UDFA draft prospects. Some are down on the overall talent level of this year's class, but this weekend's game offers some play-makers on offense to watch.
When discussing the wide receivers, tight end Jordan Reed needs to be in the discussion. As Redskins fans are aware, Reed is not a traditional tight end and is used primarily as the Redskins go-to receiving option. Redskins coach Jay Gruden has stated, on multiple occasions, that the offensive game plan changes when Reed is out. His true impact is the ability to expose the center-field which makes him dangerous receiving threat. The former Florida quarterback transitioned to tight end during his sophomore season and was drafted by Washington in 2013. Standing nearly 6'3" and weighing 235 lbs, Reed made a smooth transition to the NFL as a tight end, but has dealt with injuries and multiple concussions during his time with the Redskins.
After having productive 2015 & 2016 seasons (1,638 and 17 TD's in two seasons) Reed has been a frequent flier on the injury report/IR. With a salary upwards of $8.5 million dollars in 2019 and being on the wrong side of 30, the Redskins should consider another solution. Speed is the answer and the Redskins should address that in the early rounds of the draft, but what about tight end? Similar to Reed, the stance at The B&G Report is that another conversion project needs to happen during Washington's rebuilding phase.
Syracuse WR Jamal Custis has been a player that has fallen under the radar by many talent evaluators. The 6'5" 225 lbs pass catcher offers the type of ability that could impress teams but is still very raw, at this point. While in high school, Custis was also a four time Catholic League Basketball Champion forward and team captain his senior year. He also was elected to the Philadelphia Catholic League AA All-State team. The skills he learned as a multi-sport athlete should translate well to the next level.
*Strong upper body which he uses well when adjusting to the ball in the air
*Pro ready frame with room to bulk up
*Dangerous red zone threat (used exclusively in that role '14-'15)
*Great tape versus upper echelon competition (Clemson & FSU)
*Ability and willingness to block in the run game Excels versus press coverage Strong hands and makes one handed catches look easy
*Limited production as 1 year starter
*Quicker than fast
*Has concentration lapses at times (2 game stretch in '18 with multiple dropped passes)
*Limited route tree knowledge
*Needs more time in the weight room to transition to tight end
*Long strider limits his cutback ability Not very elusive with the ball in his hands
Although the former Syracuse receiver's college production was average at best, it had more to do with lack of opportunities than lack of talent. Custis only played in 8 games during his first three years, registering 142 rec yards and 1 touchdown, but his senior year was his coming out party. Custis was the undoubted #1 target in the Syracuse offensive system during his final season, leading the team with 1,065 rec yards and 6 touchdowns. What stood out the most was how Custis always seemed to be in tune with his quarterback,who often went off script, forcing his receivers to break off routes and use his athleticism as the their big play threat.
The big bodied receiver has imposing size to be used as a weapon on the next level. Jay Gruden likes to move players around in different positions and formations, so Custis seems like a natural fit as a late round option. The former Syracuse receiver could be a better pro than collegiate athlete. Syracuse coaches asked Custis to primarily run go routes and a screen here and there. His versatility was underutilized by the team's unimaginative offensive coordinator.
Custis could get his foot in the door on special teams where he showed promise as a gunner and could contribute as a sub-package receiver. Although his upside as a receiver is there, his skill set could be better utilized as a flex tight end in Washington's offense. Tomorrow's game will go a long way in determining how high Custis's stock could rise, but his pro day and combine performances will be the final measuring stick prior to the NFL Draft. If the former Syracuse receiver truly has sub 4.5 forty speed, as reported, it could dramatically change his draft position in a deep wide receiver class.
In the end Custis's limited production as a college receiver and limitations as a route runner will give teams pause when using an early round selection. The Syracuse pass catcher is viewed as the 5th best wide receiver prospect at the Shrine Game, but the intangibles offered by the behemoth receiver are undeniable. If Custis makes it past the 4th round, Jay Gruden and the Redskins would be wise to draft him and find a role in their offense for him.
Thanks for checking out another Burgundy and Gold Report. With the first major pre-draft event taking place this weekend, stay tuned for more prospect analysis with #TheBootsOnTheGroundTour
kicking off next week, David Hill will be LIVE TWEETING from the SENIOR BOWL January 26th
and Dana Sparkman will be LIVE TWEETING at 2019 NFL Draft April 25-27th.
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