NFL teams typically keep between 5-7 receivers, with the majority keeping 6 given how the passing game has expanded in recent years across the league. With three established starters in Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts you can make a good case that the Redskins only need to keep 5 wide receivers since they won’t need to rely on their depth as much as some other teams. It would make even more sense considering that Jay Gruden and the Cincinnati Bengals were one of the teams who utilized 3 (or more) wide receiver sets the fewest in the league last year. Also, with tight end Jordan Reed a potential emerging weapon in the passing game, the need to go 3 or 4 wide is lessened. Despite all the reasons they don’t have to go with 6 or 7 wide receivers, it would probably be a mild surprise if the Redskins didn’t keep 6 wide receivers to start the season. There isn’t any real compelling reason behind this, it just seems to be the direction they are going in.
1. Pierre Garcon– Garcon should once again be the Redskins number 1 receiver and RGIII‘s favorite target this season. Though Jackson may be the bigger threat to defenses, Garcon is the guy the Redskins will count on for consistency and to move the chains.
2. DeSean Jackson– As mentioned above Jackson is the biggest weapon on this team and probably the better receiver, but he’s not a guy who typically catches a lot of balls. He’s more of a home run threat and should lead the Redskins in catches over 20 and 40 yards. Also given his deep threat ability Jackson could be the Redskins leader in touchdowns.
3. Andre Roberts– Roberts was the Redskins first free agent WR signing and looked poised to be the starting receiver opposite Garcon. Jackson’s signing changed all of that and it now makes Roberts one of the better 3rd wide receivers in the league. Roberts has the ability to play both in the slot and on the outside, displaying good speed and route running ability. Roberts will be the primary 3rd receiver when the Redskins go three or four wide, and he should also come in for both Jackson and Garcon to give them breathers. Roberts is also expected to start the year as the Redskins primary return man.
4. Santana Moss– The veteran has a lot going for him in this position battle as he’s versatile enough to play any WR position, he’s a smart, crisp route runner and has already worked considerably with RGIII. Moss is a leader on the team and has shown a willingness to help out with punt return duties. He’s an ideal 4th receiver because of his experience and ability to back-up multiple positions.
5. Ryan Grant– The 5th round rookie has been very impressive in camp and has opened some eyes with his route running and catching ability. Grant doesn’t have great size or speed, but he’s a hard worker and has impressed the coaching staff. He might not get much work this year, but he looks like he’s being groomed for at least the 4th WR role in the future.
6. Leonard Hankerson– Hankerson still isn’t off the PUP list after a late season surgery to repair his ACL last year. Hankerson though could be the ideal option for the 6th WR spot if he can make it off the PUP list before the start of the season. Hankerson has the best size among the top receivers and has been solid in his time with the Redskins. No he hasn’t developed into a top starter, and there are some health questions, but Hankerson hasn’t been bad and offers nice depth for a year. If Hankerson isn’t off the PUP list by the time the season starts he will be a mid-season replacement for someone on the roster (perhaps this would be the one way the Skins break camp with 5 WR).
7. Aldrick Robinson– Robinson has been on the Redskins active roster the past two seasons, but despite a myriad of injuries and ineffectiveness among the Redskins receivers, Robinson was never able to really carve out a serious role for himself. His best trait is his ability to get vertical, but the Redskins no longer need him as a situational deep threat with the additions of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts. Robinson had a nice first preseason game, but he’s got an uphill climb to make the roster, particularly if Hankerson is healthy.
8. Nick Williams– Williams was activated late in the year by the Redskins last season, but he didn’t do much (particularly in the return game) during his time in DC. Williams is a long shot to make the roster, as he’s really limited as a slot receiver/return guy. He could fight for another year on the practice squad.
9. Rashard Ross- Ross had a nice game against the Patriots and opened a few fans eyes, but he’s an extreme longshot to make the team. He wasn’t a highly used receiver in college and doesn’t have a ton of buzz overall. He is an interesting kick return option, but he’s not good enough that the Redskins will just give him a roster spot. He could earn a practice squad spot though to try again next season.
10. Rashard Lawrence- Lawrence is a UDFA signed this year from Northwestern and not really in consideration for a 53 man roster spot. He could begin to challenge Williams and Ross for a spot on the practice squad though.
11. Cody Hoffman- Hoffman was considered a priority UDFA and though he’s not a fast or agile wide receiver, he was a sleeper at the start of camp given his size and college production. It has been a quiet camp for him so far, but if the coaches are impressed his potential could get him to stick around. The practice squad has limited spots though so it’s doubtful more than 2 WR’s will be on it and even 2 could be a stretch.
12. Lee Doss- Another UDFA this year and another long shot to even make the practice squad.