Why the Slide?: Jeremy Sprinkle

By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Three years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In that series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. A year later, we started the Why Slide? series, and this year, it is back. Feel free to email me requests for “Why the Slide?” and “Why Undrafted?” at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely respond.

The 2017 NFL Draft was loaded at the tight end position, and one of those quality prospects was Arkansas’ Jeremy Sprinkle. For the Razorbacks, Sprinkle was a well-rounded player as he contributed to their ground-based offense as a blocker and also showed some receiving ability. Sprinkle totaled 10 touchdowns over the past two seasons and recorded more than 300 yards receiving each year. Considering he split targets with other tight ends like Hunter Henry, Sprinkle performed well as a receiver. With good size and athleticism, Sprinkle (6-5, 252) surprisingly slid to the fifth round.

According to sources, Sprinkle slid for a few reasons. One was the overall depth of the tight end class, which pushed Sprinkle down. In a typical year, he could have easily gone a round or two higher. Also, Sprinkle didn’t interview well with teams regarding some off-the-field issues from college. That also hurt Sprinkle as they had character concerns with him. A third reason is that some teams that were down on Sprinkle had him graded as a fifth-rounder, so to them where he went off the board was appropriate.

The Washington Redskins ended Sprinkle’s fall in the fifth round. The Redskins don’t have a serious need at the position with veterans Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed. Reed is the feature tight end, but Sprinkle offers them rotational value. He has more blocking ability than Reed, so he can be a Y tight end in double-tight end sets. Sprinkle also is a receiving threat who should benefit from defenses focusing their coverage on Reed. With Davis returning to Washington, Sprinkle will have to make the team as the third or fourth tight end, but Davis is obviously not a long-term contributor at this stage of his career. In a year or two, Sprinkle could form a nice tandem with Jordan Reed, but at the moment, Sprinkle offers the Redskins some immediate depth if Reed gets injured again. Sprinkle was a good value pick in Washington’s excellent draft, and he should carve out a role with the Redskins.

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