Washington Redskins’ fans have seen their team attempt to build their roster via questionable trades and free agency signings. Usually, these transactions have produced disastrous results. High draft picks are usually used on players that are expected to contribute immediately, like Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III. However, picks in the later rounds provide depth for an NFL roster. Players picked in later rounds carry lower expectations to make positive contributions to their respective teams.
Redskins’ wide receiver Leonard Hankerson is such a player. Drafted in the third round of the 2011 NFL draft, Hankerson had not yet seized the opportunity to prove himself as a viable receiving option. At six foot two and 209 pounds, Hankerson has the size and strength to make tough catches downfield. He also has the speed to get deep and catch the long ball. Now in his third year in Washington, it’s time for Hankerson to step up and contribute to the Redskins’ offense.
That’s exactly what he’s done in 2013. After four weeks, Hankerson is the Redskins’ second leading receiver with 15 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns. He seems to have developed a good on field rapport with Griffin, becoming a reliable receiver. Hankerson’s early season production has made him one of the few bright spots during Washington’s early season offensive struggles.
Hankerson’s aforementioned statistics suggest that he replace receiver Joshua Morgan as a full time starter opposite wide receiver Pierre Garcon. Morgan, a Washington D.C. native, signed as a free agent with the Redskins before the 2012 season. He has only been average as a receiving option, catching 48 passes and two touchdowns that season. In 2013, Morgan has been shifted to kickoff return duty, which suggests that Hankerson could become the full time starter at wide receiver.
At 24, Hankerson represents the future of Washington’s passing game. He should become the full time starter in order to take his game to the next level. If he continues to make strides as a receiver, things will be that much better for the Redskins’ offense.