Currently the Washington Redskins have seven wide receivers under contract, and are likely to bring 10-12 to camp. Though it seems like it would be a big offseason need to fill those 3-5 roster spots, it’s actually not that pressing since their top 6 wide receivers from last year are all returning. The Redskins kept 8 receivers (including Brandon Banks) in 2011, and seven receivers (again including Banks) last year. Though it is obviously possible they could keep that many, I’d be shocked if they kept more than six. Also given how much of a focus the running game is becoming in their offense they could decide to keep only five. Here is how they rank, including predictions for where they end-up. Tiers are based off of what their expected value is for 2013, due to a combination of past production and likely potential. Overall potential, or contract status is not really taken into account.
Description: Top level starter, absolute lock to both make the team and start. Won’t face any competition for his job.
Description: Quality starter who may have some minor struggles in a given year, but overall is a good football player. Should both easily make the team and start.
-While some may make a case for Garcon to be in Tier 1, he isn’t worthy of that status. He’s not a number 1 wide receiver and probably not among the 25 best receivers in the league. What he is though is a good number 2 receiver and really that is all you need in the NFL to be successful. Garcon has very good top end speed and though he’s never been a real deep threat, he can at least challenge defenses vertically. He’s at his best in the intermediate area where he can create some separation and pick up yards after the catch. He’s physical for his size, and showed himself to be a good down field blocker. His hands have always been a bit suspect, and there have been some consistency issues in the past. But none of those concerns are big enough to cause a worry in Washington. Garcon should hopefully be fully healthy this year, and give Washington a 1,000 yard receiver, something they’ve lacked the last two seasons.
Moss was coming off an injury filled 2011 season that saw his production and impact dropoff considerably. He came back healthier and in great shape, and ended up with a big year for the Redskins. His target to reception ratio, yards per catch, 1st downs, and yards after the catch were neck-and-neck with Garcon, while his 8 touchdowns doubled the next highest. Moss also made some huge catches throughout the year, both on third downs and touchdowns, he came up with some of the biggest plays for the Redskins. Moss has always had a higher drop percentage than you’d like, but the real question with him is how much will he play? Last year Moss was used basically exclusively from the slot. That kept him involved in more than 60% of the passing plays, but still below what the outside starters were getting, which limits some of his effectiveness. Moss though is a Tier 2 guy, because of the impact that he had in the slot last year, which was huge, and the fact that he has a good career track record, and in 2010 did go over 1,000 yards for the Skins.
Description: Passable starter, can play the position and be okay, but won’t consistently play at a high level. Will be streaky throughout the season and over the course of many seasons. Depending on position would be better served as a good role player, or would be the best reserve player at a position. Should make the team, though not a lock and should face competition for a starting job.
-Morgan was a free agent pick-up from the 49ers last year, and ended up leading the team in catches, targets, and 1st downs. He isn’t a vertical threat or a dynamic player who will do a lot after the catch, but he’s consistent. Morgan was a favorite 2nd or 3rd option for Griffin on a lot of plays in the short area where he’d pick up 8-10 yards and keep the chains moving. Morgan also showed himself to be a good down field blocker as well. Morgan is a good possession receiver and is a nice complement to the big play abilities of Garcon and Moss.
-I’m probably higher on Hankerson than most as I don’t see him as a bust or even close to that. Keep in mind that receivers (even a number of really good ones) typically take 2-3 years before they really can be counted on. Hankerson is heading into his 3rd year, but he’s also had to deal with the fact that the lockout wiped out much of his development time as a rookie, and then the hip injury knocked out 40% of his rookie year, plus much of his first real offseason. Though many may look at him as a disappointment, consider this. His 14.3 yards per catch were on par with Garcon and Moss, his 3 TD’s were better than Morgan and just one behind Garcon despite not getting the targets they did. Also his 8 catches of 20 or more yards were 3rd on the team and his 25 first downs were just one behind Moss/Garcon. Finally though he had a couple crucial drops, his drop percentage was the best on the team. He maybe didn’t take the league by storm, but when given opportunities Hankerson produced, his numbers are just down due in part to the Redskins spreading the football around and how little in general they threw the football. This will be a big year for his development as he’s fully healthy and will have a full offseason. He will be limited in his effectiveness given the crowded depth chart, but if called upon he should do fine.
Description: Replacement level starter. This is a guy who could start in a pinch or as a long-term injury replacement but will max out as an average starter, and will probably be below average. He’s a guy who could be okay as a short term filler, but over an extended period will struggle. Depending on position could be a solid player, or would be a good back-up. Has a decent chance to make the team, and could get a look at a starting job, but nothing is set in stone for him.
-Robinson was a 6th round pick in 2011. Initially he was just on the practice squad that year, but was called up to the 53 man roster later in the season. Last year after a strong preseason, he was given a chance for an expanded depth role. With Pierre Garcon‘s early season injury he got an expanded role early on as an outside receiver. Robinson showed some flashes, particularly as a vertical threat where he could utilize his top notch speed. Robinson had just 11 catches, but averaged 21.5 yards per catch, and had 3 touchdowns and four receptions over 20 yards. The real issue with Robinson going forward is he’s mainly a one trick pony at this point. He can do well vertically, but doesn’t fare as well on some of the shorter routes. Given how little the Redskins threw deep, that limits his effectiveness. Also, holding him back is the fact that he hasn’t shown any ability to play inside in the slot position. Given his size and frame, you’d at least expect him to be an option inside, but he lacks the route running and short area quickness to be effective. Robinson though should continue to develop and give the Redskins good situational reps and depth.
-Though Briscoe didn’t really see the field much last season, he’s still a Tier 4 player for me. He’s quite a bit more talented than what most teams have as their 5th or 6th receiver. In 2011 he had 35 catches for 387 yards and 6 TD’s. He’s a bigger possession receiver who can be pretty effective in the red zone. He’s buried in Washington, but if the Redskins had a couple of injuries I do believe he’d pick-up the slack, especially since he’s now had a year in the offense. I wouldn’t expect big things from him in a developmental sense, but he’s a solid back-up who if needed could have a defined role as a bigger red zone target.
Description: Solid back-up caliber player. Shouldn’t really ever start, and would be below average in that capacity, but can be a short term injury replacement. Shouldn’t even be much of a role player depending on the position, their best value is in their reliability as a replacement. Depending on the position, should be capable of backing up multiple positions or roles to increase their value. Has a chance to make the team, but really shouldn’t be considered a starting option at all.
Description: Replacement level player. Not considered at all for a starting role, and isn’t even considered a viable back-up. Really only has a shot to make the team if injuries thin out the competition. Overall has a poor chance to make a roster, and is a player who will likely be replaced during the season.
-Hanks was an undrafted rookie free agent last year, who was waived after getting injured. He was then placed on injured reserve after not being claimed, and the Redskins retain his rights going into camp this year. He obviously made enough of an impact for the Redskins to hang on to him, and will look to fight for a roster spot. His chances aren’t that great given how deep the Redskins are at wide receiver, and since it is clear the Redskins will bring in 3-5 additional guys to compete with him, for possibly a single roster spot. Hanks though could possibly be in line for a practice squad spot, something to consider given that Morgan, Moss and Briscoe are all free agents after this season.
What do you think? How would you rank the Redskins wide receiver options? And do you think they should look to upgrade?