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It's all but official, Gandy Golden will look to follow in the footsteps of Niles Paul and convert from wide receiver to tight end as reported by John Keim (ESPN) and SB Nation.
Before we jump into the prospect of him playing TE let's evaluate why it didn't work out as a WR. A.G.G. was a fourth round selection out of Liberty University in the 2020 draft. Many including Louis Riddick and Daniel Jeremiah loved the selection of A.G.G. as evidenced by JP Finlay's tweet referencing comments made by both of them.
So why didn't it work at WR? There are two key reasons:
Covid - A.G.G. came into the league when Covid hit the NFL and everyone had to adjust. This was always going to be hard on rookies but especially those rookies coming from smaller schools. A.G.G.'s college coaches are friends of our podcast and they told us on a number of occasions how the Covid situation really hurt A.G.G.'s development. The lack of in person learning in his early days in the league mattered in a big way.
Injuries - Gandy Golden had never suffered a major injury before and the hamstring injury that put him on Injured reserve and kept him away from his team completely stifled his already tumultuous rookie year. Nothing is more valuable than live reps for young players and he wasn't able to get them.
Making it in the NFL is hard enough let alone position switches. So why might this experiment work?
1. Time - I know that sounds odd given that this is the last year of his deal but, all A.G.G has to do is show enough promise to warrant a league minimum contract or even a spot on the practice squad while he continues to progress in his development as a tight end. Given the lack of production early in his career there won't be a ton of teams lining up to sign him so it would be in the best interest of both sides to come to terms on a deal that buys A.G.G. time to develop next season. There is no immediate need for him to produce with John Bates already on the roster and Logan Thomas returning from injury.
2. He's theirs - This coaching staff drafted him and as you know, in the NFL that matters. When you're drafted by a particular administration you get every chance in the world to make it as long as you are not a problem in the locker room. Don't believe me? Well, consider why they wouldn't just cut him rather than giving him the chance to become a tight end in the first place.
3. Intelligence - By all accounts A.G.G. is a super smart dude. He should have an intimate knowledge of the playbook by now and his mental abilities should help him understand hiw new position. Tight ends have to know the responsibilities of the O-line and their job as a receiver. He can mentally handle that.
4. Easier releases for receptions - A.G.G. is big for a WR but that doesn't mean he was able to get off the line of scrimmage cleanly against press coverage. Playing tight end should free him up coming off the line to get into his routes more easily.
5. It's been done before - While "been done before" does not guarantee success, it does mean that its not impossible.
Let's all keep the right perspective, the road will be long for A.G.G. and the odds are against him but where there is opportunity there is hope and sometimes that is all an NFL player needs.