Top Sleeper On Offense:
May 15, 2013 in Redskins Personnel
E.J. Biggers Defensive Sleeper | 5 Defensive Sleepers | Leonard Hankerson Offensive Sleeper | 5 Offensive Sleepers
Given the Redskins lack of money for free agents and not having a first round pick this year any improvements they are to make this season will have to come from players developing. Here is my top sleep on offense, who could improve this year to become a bigger factor on the Redskins offense. Though he has gotten a shot before, this player is relatively unheralded, especially in terms of being a productive member of the Redskins.
-Now Hankerson is a guy who many fans are ready to write off after just two seasons, but that is just way too premature. For one thing, Hankerson hasn't had close to two full seasons. His rookie year he was without the Rookie Camp, mini-camp and OTA's that rookies typically have. That set him back to start training camp and the season, meaning he had further fewer reps. Then he suffered a hip injury that kept him out of the 2nd half of the year, while also eating in to some more offseason activities. The other thing to consider is that receivers typically take 2-3 years to develop. In fact you can make the case that Hankerson had a better 2nd year, than Santana Moss, Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon. Now it is debatable with Garcon since he had more yards, and yards per catch, but he caught a lower percentage of his targets and had more drops. The point is all three of these receivers saw very little production in their first two years, and that was without any injury or lockout to take into consideration.
Hankerson last year really didn't have as bad of a season as people want to make it out to be. His drop percentage was lower than Garcon, Morgan and Moss and his numbers are comparable to anyone. In fact comparing him to the Redskins premier receiver Pierre Garcon, who on average makes 12.5 times as much as Hankerson a year (based solely on their average salaries, not year to year), I think shows just what Hankerson can do.
Hank: 38 receptions | 57 targets | 66.6% completion% | 543 yards | 14.3 ypc | 3 TD | 7.89% TD % | 8- 20 yard+ catches | 157 YAC | 25 1st Downs
Garcon: 44 receptions | 67 targets | 65.7% completion | 633 yards | 14.4 ypc | 4 TD | 9.09% TD% | 10 -20 yard+ catches | 325 YAC | 26 1st Downs
Now I don't think anyone questions that Garcon is the better receiver, but is Hankerson that bad? If Hankerson would have had the same number of targets he'd be expected to put up essentially the exact same numbers (if not slightly better). The only area that Garcon has a real demonstrative advantage is yards after the catch, which is nice, but only means that Hankerson was a more effective target down the field, since their ypc's are basically the same. Another thing to take in consideration is the fact that Garcon's completion %, is actually more inflated due to the 16 catches he had behind the line of scrimmage (which also boosted his YAC). Hankerson only had four such catches (though was no where near effective with them).
Again Hankerson isn't Garcon, as they are different type of receivers, but the reality is most Redskins fans should be happy with where Hankerson is right now. Sure it would be nice if he had already taken his game to the next level, but given the injury and lockout factors he seems to be well on pace for where he should be in his career. This year he should push Josh Morgan for that Y receiver position, and get his fair share of playing time. Now he likely won't come anywhere close to 1,000 yards or big touchdown numbers, given that the Redskins still figure to be a run first team and will spread the ball around. What we should see though is further improvement as he looks to start opposite Garcon in 2014, when both Moss and Morgan are free agents.