Washington Commanders 2020 fourth-round pick Antonio Gandy-Golden will be making the switch from wide receiver to tight end, according to ESPN’s John Keim. Gandy-Golden (or AGG) didn’t catch on as wide receiver for Washington. He has spent the majority of his time on the bench, inactive, or on the team’s practice squad. AGG most certainly has the frame and athletic ability to make the switch to tight end.
Should he find success in making the switch, he will join a suddenly crowded tight end room. Logan Thomas is the clear-cut starter. John Bates showed enough as a rookie last season to be considered Thomas’ primary backup. The Commanders just selected rookie tight end Cole Turner out of Nevada in the fifth round of this year’s draft and seem to have high hopes for him. Then there’s international prospect and physical freak Sammis Reyes. Reyes, like Gandy-Golden, is new to the position, having never played tight end prior to 2021 (actually, he had never played football prior to 2021).
Washington has successfully converted wide receivers to tight ends previously. Going back to the Mike Shanahan days, Washington drafted Niles Paul in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. Drafted as a wide receiver out of Nebraska, Paul struggled to catch on at the position with the team. However, Mike Shanahan recognized Paul’s athletic ability and asked Paul to make the switch to tight end after his rookie season. Paul then made the switch and became one of team’s backup tight ends and became a good special teams player. In 2014, Paul stepped into a starting role after an injury to starter Jordan Reed. He produced what would be a career high in receptions and yards with 39 receptions and 507 yards. He finished his 8 year career with the Jacksonville Jaguars and retired before the start of the 2019 season.
Niles Paul had a successful NFL career. No he wasn’t a big superstar, but being able to play this game for eight years is hard. He was always a tough player that the team could count on to do the dirty work on special teams and as the second/third tight end. His teammates and the coaching staff recognized his leadership and made him a team captain. I believe Gandy-Golden can have a similar career and a similar impact that Niles Paul had. There’s many similarities between them. First, they were later round selections (AGG drafted in the 4th round, Paul drafted in the 5th round). Then, they are similar in size, although AGG is a little taller. Even their journeys at this point in AGG’s career is similar to Paul’s early NFL career.
Commanders head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner will now ask Gandy-Golden to do the same thing that former head coach Mike Shanahan asked of Niles Paul ten years ago. I’m sure Rivera sees some of the same things in AGG that Shanahan saw in Paul. I liked AGG when we drafted him. I was excited for his combination of size and speed and his ability to go up and get 50/50 balls. He can find a role on this team. However, I think rookie Cole Turner can do many of the same things as AGG, but probably a bit better given his experience at the position. I’m not sure of either of their ceilings at the position; it’s hard to tell this early in the offseason. At the very least, I think I, and many others, are intrigued to see how Gandy-Golden will progress at the position.
Click on the story above for more Commanders news and analysis!
Also be sure to check out our Shop for some cool merch!