Lost: Fred Davis
Where they’re better: If Reed stays healthy, they have an athletic receiving target. When the Redskins worked against New England in practices, Reed was the dominant target for quarterback Robert Griffin III -- his ability to win quickly and his size provided a safety net. Also, Reed’s ability to adjust on the ball bodes well for a quarterback sometimes off with his throws (or for any quarterback for that matter). Look for Reed to continue developing down-the-field as well. Paul had a strong summer catching the ball (as he did in 2013). Paulsen remains a solid blocker, though it’s a learning curve for all of them having to do more drop-back pass protection. It’ll be an adjustment.
Where they’re worse: Again, tough to really be worse when the group is the same. If Davis had played better last season, you could make a strong case that the lack of a true No. 2 receiving threat is an issue, given Reed’s durability issues. I still think this is an issue. It’s not as if Paulsen and Paul can’t catch, but the former is more of a blocker, and the latter still needs to prove he’s a solid threat. The Redskins need practice squad player Ted Bolser to develop into this sort of player, but he’ll take a little time. He’s really a pick for next season.
Overall: So much depends on Reed’s durability. That was an issue in college and has been one in the NFL, where he’s been sidelined for various stretches with a number of different ailments. He had a four-game stretch last season where he caught a combined 27 passes. I expect him to finish with a high number of grabs -- if he stays healthy. Reed also helps open windows for other targets; it happened last season, too, as linebackers would occasionally cheat his way. It happened this summer when a New England safety leaned his way, opening a narrow lane that Kirk Cousins hit Aldrick Robinson on a slant pass for a touchdown. Given his past, it’s hard to imagine Reed being available all the time. I don’t know what to expect from Paul, but do think he can be an improved threat. Paulsen will be Paulsen: solid blocker who will catch some tough passes and drop the occasional one. He also might be the smartest player on the team.