After signing free agents DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts in addition to re-signing Santana Moss this offseason, the Washington Redskins appeared to be set at wide receiver. The NFL‘s leading receiver from 2013, Pierre Garcon, is also back, and Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson are around to compete for the last couple spots and add depth. So when the team picked WR Ryan Grant from Tulane in the fifth round of this year’s draft, they must have really seen something in him to think that he could make a dent on their already loaded depth chart.
At 6-foot, 199-pounds, Grant isn’t big and strong, and as his 4.64 time in the 40-yard dash shows, he’s not extremely fast. He isn’t particularly shifty or quick either, so there is concern about his ability to create separation at the NFL level. He was extremely productive at Tulane, amassing 153 catches, 2188 yards and 15 TDs in his last two seasons, but if he cannot learn how to get open against pro competition quickly, his spot on his team may be in jeopardy.
What Grant does have is a tremendous set of hands and the ability to adjust to the ball in the air. So while the getting open part of the equation may take him a little while to figure out, he comes ready-made as far as being a reliable target. Among the Redskins’ current receivers, Roberts, Jackson and Robinson are all deep threats, and Hankerson’s hands have been questionable since he entered the league, making Garcon the only reliable option underneath when they need to move the chains on third down. And that is where Grant can carve out a role on this team for 2014 — as a secondary option on third down when teams show Garcon too much attention.
While it is hard to come up with a list of successful NFL receivers who are neither big, fast or quick, early word from OTAs is that Grant is, in fact, finding ways to get open. If that proves to be true going forward the Redskins may have found themselves a quality possession receiver for this year and into the future.