The wide receiver position for us is a hotly contested position in terms of what roster moves, if any, should be taken with the upcoming draft. Some think we should stand pat and see what our current personnel will do this year and then make any necessary moves next year. That is kind of like anticipating a car wreck and then standing there and watching it happen. Ok, maybe it's more like anticipating paint drying and then standing there and watching it happen.
Anyway, I've watched interviews and watched 2 seasons of all players listed (next to last season and their last collegiate season) so let's examine a few of the top WR's in the draft and how they would potentially fit in the Redskins offense:
Robert Woods 6'0'' 200 lbs USC: The first word that comes to mind when I think about this player is SMOOTH. Very fluid in and out of his breaks. Excellent technique and can run every number on the route tree. Very good hands and catches the ball with ease no matter where the ball placement is. He is miles ahead of every other WR in the draft when it comes to fundamentals and technique. Best thing about him: he doesn't tip the DB off with a head fake just before he breaks right or left. By that I mean WR have a tendency of head faking in the opposite direction to which they are going to break (head faking left then breaking right and vice versa) and good DB's can read that and jump the route. He's not the fastest WR on the field all the time but because of his fundamentals he consistently gets separation and gets open against DB's faster than he is. One WR that he reminds me of when I watch him: Art Monk. I know, burn me alive now, but I saw an old 1994 Jets vs Dolphins game on NFLN the other day just to watch Monk and Monk wasn't the fastest WR on the field at any given time but his attention to detail on his routes and his hands made him the consummate possession WR. Woods catches everything in sight and you add that to his route running and I could easily see him excelling at the #2 WR spot opposite Garcon. I want those kind of characteristics on the field on 3rd and 8. He is perfect for timing patterns and will probably be where he's supposed to be on time when the QB goes through his progressions. That's very important for a developing QB in his 2nd year.
Da'Rick Rogers 6'2" 213 lbs: We all know the back story on this guy so I won't go there. He is a physical specimen in the mold of Anquan Boldin but when I watch him I see...(wait for it)... Terrell Owens. He will physically beat a DB up and can take a hit (UN-like Owens) and keep on trucking up field. Physically, he is imposing for a DB that lines up across from him but I'm not sure he's interested in the technical side of the position. Seems like one of those players that expects to be better than anyone he lines up against but will become a malcontent when not getting the ball and then cause problems. (MUCH like Terrell Owens) I love his physical gifts but I don't think he would fit in here because he wouldn't be a good teammate. He's going to like the cameras and media a little too much. Excellent gifts but will be problematic on the wrong team. Not really a student of the game but can be solid if he applies himself. My verdict: He doesn't seem like a Shanahan type of player. Pass on him unless he falls into the 4th then it would be a bargain.
Kenny Stills 6'0" 197 lbs Oklahoma: I was of the thinking that Stills could contribute early in year 1 for the Redskins in the slot position but I have since cooled on that notion. One reason is his body hasn't filled out yet. His frame suggests he could get up to about 215 lbs. He's very thin to be outside and would get swallowed up inside thus eliminating him from making the play. He runs a little high when going into his route. This becomes a problem with zone defenses and the defender being able to knock him off his route before he can make his break. Especially in the slot. His ball skills are superb. He will go up and get it no matter where it is. He needs to be more physical when trying to beat press coverage off the line but if he beats press coverage he's going to get open, no question about that. His 2 best routes are the fade pattern (we currently have no WR that can successfully run that route and make the play) and the double-move post and corner route. (Moss is the only WR that can run that route consistently) Shows a willingness to run the crossing route and wheel route across the middle and knows what to do with the ball once he catches it in the open field. He will play the slot ,ultimately, and could contribute sooner rather than later. I would put his locker next to Santana Moss and tell him to watch everything he does. (just don't try to talk to him because everyone knows Moss doesn't like people talking to him. Haha) The Verdict: I would take him but not before the 4th. I was thinking 3rd round 2 months ago so his rating has fallen a little for me.
Justin Hunter 6'4'' 196 lbs Tennessee: I would like to say I love this player but he is rail thin and I don't see him carrying extra weight very well. Very lazy in and out of his breaks and plays the game very slow. Especially on drag routes underneath. Almost seems as if he's jogging when running that route. No explosion off the line of scrimmage and if you are going to beat press coverage you'd better have quick hands and feet to get that guy off of you or you better have strength with a club move to beat the DB up and get by him and I don't see either out of him. Very good ball skills and will jump up and get it in zone coverage. A long strider and it shows when he makes his break left or right. He doesn't shorten his steps as he breaks, it's more like he plants then swings his other leg into which ever way he's breaking. That's how he gains separation because, with those long strides, that's a long 1st step out of that break. He didn't have good games against the top teams in the SEC. His Kentucky, NC State (against David Amerson) and Akron games in his last year were some of his best work. I'm not sure it's going to be that easy for him at the next level without a couple of years of serious work. The verdict: He's more of the same at the WR spot for us. Not explosive. Fast but not quick although he has much better hands and ball skills than some of the WR on our team. Long strider who is limited to outside the numbers and probably the 9 route (streak) early on in his career. I wouldn't consider him before the 3rd.
So where does that leave us? That leaves us with Robert Woods being to most logical WR to consider at #51. His technique, fundamentals and ability to gain separation would make him an instant candidate to contribute year 1 at WR2. That doesn't mean start, but it does mean that, developmentally, he is much more polished and can therefore concentrate more on where he's supposed to be instead of technique as a rookie. That doesn't mean he can stop working on fundamentals (you never should) but it does mean that he wouldn't have to spend an entire year learning those things and then learning where he's supposed to be (the playbook) in year 2.