REDSKINS WIDE RECEIVERS: THE ODD MEN OUT
The Redskins have not been shy about acquiring receivers this offseason. With two in free agency, one in the draft and four UDFAs, it’s clear that notable Redskins wide receivers such as Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, and Aldrick Robinson will have their work cut out for them this offseason, fighting for a spot on the team.
In other words, Jay Gruden has just put most of the WR corps on notice: just because you signed a contract does mean you will wind up as one of the Redskins wide receivers in 2014. If your last name isn’t Garcon, Jackson or Roberts, you had better come into camp with the same hunger you had as a rookie.
THE SAVVY VETS
Santana Moss: Fans–and the Redskins organization as a whole–have a huge sentimental tie to Moss. He wasn’t re-signed in the offseason for nothing. Yet it’s very obvious that along with his 35 years (on June 1st), his performance and impact are aging as well.
Over the past three seasons, Moss has averaged 43 catches for 536 yards; the three years before that he averaged 81 catches for 1,020 yards. That’s pretty much like falling off a cliff. Last year in particular, his totals were the lowest since his early career with the Jets, and there was precious little separation to be seen.
Moss has given us some great memories with the Skins and it would undoubtedly break our hearts to see him go, but acquisitions like Andre Roberts make it a lot tougher to keep Moss around. Of course, we wondered the same thing last year. You learn a thing or two after 14 years in the league; he’s not dead yet.
Leonard Hankerson: Throughout his career with the Redskins, Hankerson has been a fairly solid yet unquestionably disappointing receiver, given his size, speed, and production at The U. True, he has shown a lot of promise in his play, despite having suspect hands at times.
However, there is a substantial amount of concern for Hank considering he is coming off an ACL tear from week 11 of last season. More times than not, injuries such as these prevent players to getting back to their original form, and this is the second season-ending leg injury of his career.
If Hank wants to stick around, he NEEDS to prove not only that he can outperform the younger competition, but also that his knee will not be a liability for the future. One couldn’t help but wonder, as the Redskins trotted him out during the draft party, if the Leonard Hankerson project may be at an end.
Aldrick Robinson: Similarly to Hankerson, Robinson has shown much promise as one of the up and coming Redskins wide recievers, particularly with his “take the top off the defense” speed. But has also been fairly inconsistent and suspect with his hands, sometimes at very crucial moments.
Perhaps more troubling is his seeming inability to make an impact outside of being a deep ball threat – you can’t be a one-trick pony in the NFL.
Out of the three veterans mentioned, Robinson seems to have the best shot at making the cut, given his youth and speed. Maybe Jay Gruden can get more out of him than the previous regime.
LISTEN HERE NØØBS
The competition among the new Redskins wider receivers should be an interesting one to see shake out, especially considering the diversity of the recent acquisitions at the position. Fifth round draft pick Ryan Grant (Tulane) joins UDFAs Rashad Lawrence (Northwestern), Lee Doss (Southern), Kofi Hughes (Indiana), and Cody Hoffman (Brigham Young). Some bring impressive skills and talent to the offense, while others–particularly Hoffman–bring more size and physical dominance.
Of course, the hot commodity out of all these is former Tulane star Grant, of whom Head Coach Jay Gruden spoke very highly. Clearly, Gruden had his eye on Grant prior to the draft and gave Bruce Allen a hard nudge on this one. Gruden admitted that he was “surprised” to see Grant available as late in the draft as he was, making it an easy decision for the Redskins in the fifth round.
In each of his last two seasons at Tulane, Grant managed to put together 1,000+ yards, which helped him to be a two-time selection for first-team All-Conference USA. Just because he’s a rookie, don’t be surprised to see Ryan Grant get some playing time in the near future and spice up the competition at wide receiver.
THE FINAL CUT
After the 2013 season, the Redskins wide receivers were a huge question mark. They still are, but in a totally different way; they went from “Besides Pierre Garcon, who?” to “How can they keep all these guys?”
The answer is they can’t. The question is, how many WRs will be on the final 53? Our guess is six: Garcon, Jackson, Roberts, Grant, Moss, Robinson. We like Cody Hoffman for the practice squad.