Which is about where Fred Davis stands as a pass-catcher on the Redskins right now: without a chance. He's basically the third tight end after Chris Cooley and Todd Yoder, but without the blocking-first skill set normally found at such depth on an NFL roster.
If, however, Davis somehow surpasses Yoder and lands the #2 TE role behind Pro Bowler Cooley, he might see the field enough to snag, oh, say, 9.8 catches for 84.8 yards and 1 TD this season. That's the average statline for a back-up TE behind a Pro Bowler for the past 7 seasons (and pretty much Yoder's production each of the past 2).
Take a look at this chart I made which took forever. It details the statlines of back-ups to Pro Bowl TEs during that Pro Bowl TE's season, dating back to 2002 (click to enlarge):
So, assuming Cooley performs at a Pro Bowl level again in 2009, Fred Davis is likely to produce dick as a pass catcher. Basically the only productive pass catcher on the list is Martellus Bennett, the Cowboys rookie last season who was, of course, on the board when Cerrato took Davis in Round 2 last year.
The point here is that #2 tight ends in the NFL are primarily blockers. Fred Davis isn't exactly known for that, and Yoder has the role locked up. Davis is basically a homeless man's Cooley in terms of his skill set, and as long as Cooley remains healthy Davis will never even have a chance to realize his potential. And whether or not he does makes no difference to the Redskins' success: they already have the real Chris Cooley.
Fred Davis with fellow useless tight end Jason Goode. Image via USA Today.
So what's the upside of keeping the kid on the roster at all? To stash him in case Cooley goes down (he apparently shed 20 pounds this offseason)? To become the red zone threat we desperately need opposite Cooley? To train him to punt? For bargain-bin jersey options in this rough economy? At this point all he does is give the Redskins two players named Fred, which is a classic and manly American name that is on the decline and what I call my expanding beer gut. So there's that.
I want to share the optimism of some fans who expect one (or all) of Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas and Fred Davis to have a breakout season. Maybe there's hope for the former two but I don't see any for the latter. There's just no precedent for 2 TE offenses where both are productive pass-catchers. Poor Fred Davis is a baggy jeans nut trapped in a tight jeans world.
[Image of hipsters voluntarily stunting their sperm counts via The Eternal Headache]