As players take their final breaks before training camp, The Redskins Blog will take a look back at the new faces from this offseason and what we've learned about them, football and otherwise, so far.
Today we’ll focus on tight end Jeremy Sprinkle:
- He is leading the way for future Arkansas tight ends.**
Selected in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Sprinkle is just the second Arkansas tight end to be selected in NFL Draft history. The Redskins rookie joins only Los Angeles Chargers Hunter Henry, a 2016 second-round pick, as former Razorbacks to be picked in the annual event.
2. He was surprised the Redskins chose him, but happy that they did.
Like most rookies who enter the league through the draft, Sprinkle did not exchange much communication with the team that selected him. Pre-draft conversations with the Redskins were no different.
"You know, [I had] mostly just interviews, as you know with the Senior Bowl and the combine,” Sprinkle said of talking with Redskins scouts. “As far as the weeks leading up [to the draft], I haven't really had much contact, so I mean, it’s a big surprise, and, you know, I really love it."
With the draft experience behind him, Sprinkle appreciates the opportunity to play in Washington and play in the NFL.
“This has always been a big dream for me,” Sprinkle said. “To finally have it come true, it’s a big moment for me right now.”
3. He’s an Arkansas record holder.
Sprinkle’s 11 receiving touchdowns is an Arkansas record for career touchdowns by a tight end. The Razorback also recorded 71 receptions for nearly 1,000 yards in his four seasons with the team.
Like other memorable players, Sprinkle punctuated his points with a signature move that he hopes to show off in the league.
4. He’s a versatile player.
Having played both tight end and on special teams with Arkansas, Sprinkle brings a wide range of abilities to the Redskins.
“I played all of special teams for three years, except for the last year that I was the full-time starter,” Sprinkle said of his collegiate play. “As my role got bigger on offense, I did special teams less, but for the first three years that I played, I was on punt, punt return, kickoff, and kickoff return, as well as hands and onside.”
5. He’s proud of his development as a tight end.
Despite Sprinkle’s scoring success, the tight end has recently focused on developing his blocking abilities.
“I would say [blocking is] definitely the most improved part of my game over my career as far as developing as a tight end,” Sprinkle said. “I feel like this past season, just being able to be in those gap schemes and everything like that, it really gave me an opportunity to show that my in-line blocking is really good. I feel like that part of my game is good and solid.”
6. Redskins coaches see the Sprinke's potential for growth.
Sprinkle’s developmental efforts have not gone unnoticed, as Redskins head coach Jay Gruden cited Sprinkle’s blocking skills as one of the player’s greatest assets.
“He’s a big guy that can do both,” Gruden said of Sprinkle’s ability to run and block. “That’s very exciting. That’s very rare nowadays in college football. A lot of tight ends are athletic, can run, but when you ask them to put their hand on the ground and block that six-technique, it’s a whole different ballgame. We feel like Jeremy can do a little bit of both. And he’s still got to develop his upper body, but I think we get him in our building, get him in the weight room… He’s got the length, he’s got the size, he’s got the toughness. I think he’s a good pick.”
Redskins offensive coaches have also noted that the tight end’s diverse skill set has created a strong foundation for the player’s growth.
“I think people say he’s known for his blocking just because he is a big guy, but he caught a lot of passes at Arkansas as well and showed a lot of skill in the pass game,” tight ends coach Wes Phillips said. “He’s got big hands, soft hands, he can get in and out of breaks for a big man and you know, almost 6-5 over 250 pounds, he can really get in and out of breaks. And then in the run game, we’re working on bend and power and things that…
“He’s got a great understanding of scheme – they ran a pro-style offense [at Arkansas],” Phillips continued. “He understands the plays and where we’re going and what the adjustments are. He’s been a pleasant surprise as far as his knowledge, how fast he’s been able to pick it all up.”
Offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh sees promise in the young tight end, explaining that the player has been receptive to instruction from the coaches in Washington.
“Jeremy is a good-sized tight end with some growth potential who is going to get bigger and stronger,” Cavanaugh said. “He seems to be absorbing things very well. He’s a good learner.”
7. He joins a veteran group of Redskins tight ends.
Sprinkle, along with free agent Manasseh Garner, are this season’s only additions to the existing tight end quad: Derek Carrier, Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, and Jordan Reed.
As Reed returns from injury, he will bring back his Pro Bowl talent to the Redskins offense this season. Davis, who caught 44 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns last season, also returns to the team after securing a multi-year contract.
With the guidance of these two tight end powerhouses, Sprinkle looks forward to learning more about the position and improving his game.
“[Reed and Davis] are great tight ends, you know they’re going to be good to work with,” Sprinkle said. “Just to have that experience that they have, you know, just work with them and learn things from them… it’s going to be a pretty fun time.”