For roughly the last decade, or as long as I can recall, Santana Moss has been the go to guy at WR for your Washington Redskins. Santana has done a wonderful job considering we have never been able to establish a legitimate #2 or #3 to compliment him. Well, this year I was hoping things would change. We traded back in the draft to add draft picks and brought in a very promising young crop of WRs. I told myself, one of these guys will step up and establish themselves as the #2 WR. Terrance Austin had a great camp, Hankerson has huge hands, and Niles Paul was supposedly a steal. Well none of those guys were able to beat out the veteran Jabar Gaffney. Gaffney has done an admirable job as the #2 guy, but would likely be a roll player off the bench for the majority of NFL football teams.
So, here we are, just about at the halfway point of the season and Santana Moss is out for the foreseeable future. If I'm Niles Paul, Hankerson, or Austin, I see this as one of my few opportunities to really show that I belong as a starting WR in this league. Austin saw the second most plays from scrimmage last week at WR. He failed to contibute. Hankerson in his limited action has failed miserably with dropped balls and poor route running. And Niles Paul has been relatively non-existent. I ask myself, do any of these guys really have the desire, will, or just plain skill it takes to exceed at this level?
If, this is in fact a rebuilding season, we will have to see one or more of these 3 WRs step up BIG as a contributer before the season ends. The Redskins have a long history of wasting draft picks on WRs who never pan out at the NFL level. For this season to be a success we MUST put an end to this trend.
Hankerson seemingly has the physical attributes to establish himself as a #1 or #2 WR for this squad. However, I really need to see him put in the effort to reduce the number of drops, and to become a crisp route runner. That's where coaching and personal motivation have to kick in. Hankerson needs to be out there putting in extra time with the coaches and QBs. He can be the man if he puts the effort in.
Austin. He seems to be a crisp route runner with good hands, but given his size limitations, he's going to have to really become a route running MASTER (aka Santana Moss). He's small and quick, and he can make a living in this league for a long time to come if he can learn to separate consistently and find the soft spots in zone coverage. I'm high on Austin's chances.
Niles Paul. A good special teamer, but he needs to put in an enormous amount of work to learn to get separation at the NFL level. His coach said the Redskins got a "steal" with Niles Paul. Well it's time for Niles Paul to go to work and prove his college coach right.
Gaffney and Moss are not going to be around this franchise too much longer. The young WRs need to really battle it out in camp on a daily basis. It's time for these guys to really ramp it up, put on those blue collar shirts and work like they've never worked before. Let the cream rise to the top. This franchise CAN NOT AFFORD to have another group of drafted WRs bust...so who in this group is going to take the opportunity and run with it?