Redskins Position Breakdown: Wide Receiver

Posted on June 25, 2014 by Josh Finver

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Current Players on Roster

  • Pierre Garcon
  • Ryan Grant
  • Leonard Hankerson
  • DeSean Jackson
  • Santana Moss
  • Andre Roberts
  • Aldrick Robinson
  • Nick Williams

2013 Review

While it's difficult to judge the 2013 receiving corps without delving into the quality of quarterback play, to say the group couldn't have done much, much more to help said quarterbacks would be disingenuous. The 'Skins offense ranked 10th overall and 15th in passing offense a season ago, which doesn't sound too bad for a 3-13 team, but considering Washington was constantly playing from behind and often heavily reliant on the pass, the numbers can be slightly misleading. Plus, Jordan Reed and the tight ends contributed heavily to the air attack, further rendering this ranking useless.

Outside of Pierre Garcon, who broke Art Monk's single-season franchise record for receptions, Washington got next to nothing from their wide receivers. The lack of a consistent number two threat effectively forced Garcon to deal with double coverage all season long. While this makes his record-breaking performance all the more impressive, it didn't help the Redskins establish a consistent passing threat.

Santana Moss may be lovable and an all-time great in D.C., but he has made a habit over the last couple of seasons of either dropping or catch-fumbling balls when it matters most. All-Drop Robinson is a burner and made a few nice plays, but, despite flashes, has not proven to be a reliable option. Leonard Hankerson also showed some modest improvement, but still doesn't scare anyone after the catch and I'm not entirely sure I've seen him catch a ball cleanly since arriving in the nation's capital.

In limited exposure, Nick Williams wasn't anything to be enamored with and, though he may be a huge contributor to his community, dearly-departed Josh Morgan was a flaming pile of dog poo on the field. He can complain about being in the Shanahan dog house all he wants, but he consistently made the least of his opportunities to contribute.

Even with the inconsistent play of both Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, their supporting cast did them no favors (SO MANY DROPS!). The group's lack of play-making ability is what prompted the team's aggressive approach in adding talent and depth in the offseason to ensure the quarterbacks wouldn't have the same problem/excuse in 2014.

2014 Outlook/Expectations

Let's be honest with each other, shall we?

The offseason upgrades at receiver are probably the largest contributor to the optimism surrounding this squad heading into the 2014 campaign.

Redskins fans, in general, don't need all that much in the way of encouragement to have sky-high (see: unrealistic) expectations, but add one of the most feared deep threats in the game to a roster that had been completely void of such a player since... drawing a blank here... moving on. 

The point is, the addition of DeSean Jackson immediately forces teams to change the way they game plan Washington defensively. Even if he doesn't come close to the numbers he posted in 2013, Jackson forces defenses to account for his speed and play-making ability, which opens up opportunities for other guys, like the newly not double-covered Pierre Garcon, to make plays.

But, it's not just Jackson. Before the Eagles dropped their best receiver, the 'Skins seemed pretty content with the addition of Andre Roberts. He's quick with good hands, plays both inside and outside, a hard worker and an instant upgrade that would have helped Garcon in 2014 even if the Eagles hadn't cut ties with DeSean.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Richard Lipski

While Jackson and Roberts will contribute immediately, the addition of rookie Ryan Grant is also intriguing. He has impressed in limited exposure this summer, but he may end up stealing playing time from an inconsistent Robinson and Hankerson, who is coming back from a torn LCL and may not be ready to start the season.

This leaves the curious case of Santana Moss. Look for my full profile on 'Tana coming up in a couple weeks, but, for now I will say this: Should he make the roster coming out of camp, he will provide an excellent role model for the younger guys, but his playing time should be limited. He's not a bad insurance policy in case of injury, as he's familiar with the quarterbacks, but with the depth and youth now on the roster, he should be facing an uphill climb to get on the field. If he earns it, more power to him, but past performance shouldn't guaranteed anyone a roster spot.

Aside from staying healthy, size is one of the few concerns with this group. Hankerson, at 6'2", is the tallest on the roster, but Garcon plays above his size and tight end Jordan Reed, also 6'2", has established himself as a reliable red zone option. While it would be nice to have a Megatron, or the Minitron Jay Gruden had in Cincinnati, that's a luxury few teams boast and the Redskins should be able to manage just fine with what they have.

The other question that keeps coming up in discussing the upgraded receiving talent concerns whether or not the Redskins will be able to spread the ball around enough to keep everyone happy. First, nothing makes guys happier than winning. So, if they're doing that, there shouldn't be an issue. But, that responsibility will fall on Robert Griffin.

Many, including myself, expect a pretty substantial improvement in play from the third-year starter and the success of these receivers will be predicated upon that development. There are no more excuses. No more knee brace. No more lack of weapons. No more beef with his coach. It's go time.

"It's hard to find a more complete receiving corps in the NFL." Bucky Brooks, NFL.com on ranking Washington as the top receiving corps in the NFL.

next up:

Important Contract Decisions for the Redskins: Part 2

June 25, 2014

The second installment in a series on the contract situation of some important Redskins.

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