At this time of year, everyone begins to look for a breakout candidate; that player that shows flashes of potential but for whatever reason hasn't put it all together yet. On a young team like the Redskins, there are plenty of players that could take the big step up and make a significant impact next season. One of my top contenders is second year linebacker Keenan Robinson.
Robinson had just started to see more playing time, taking roughly a quarter of the snaps in weeks 11 and 12 against the Eagles and Cowboys before a torn pectoral muscle landed him on IR. Before that he had only seen the field on special teams and on occasion to give Perry Riley a breather.
At 6'3", 240 pounds, Robinson is one of the most athletic linebackers on the roster and displays a rare trait among linebackers, coverage ability. Late in the Thanksgiving game against the Cowboys, the Redskins were confident enough in Robinson to leave him in man coverage on Jason Witten. Robinson was able to stay with Witten in coverage when Riley and London Fletcher weren't. Tony Romo was forced to look away from his favorite target at crucial points in the fourth quarter, which speaks volumes to how Robinson performed.
Coverage is one of the most underrated aspects of any linebacker. Most of the linebackers in the NFL are either sent on a blitz or dropped into zone coverage because they can't stay with the new breed of athletic tight ends. If Robinson can recover from his injury and continue to improve his coverage skills, he could be an extremely valuable piece of the Redskins defense.
The Cowboys recently drafted Gavin Escobar in the second round to pair with Witten. Philadelphia added James Casey and Zach Ertz to split time with Brent Celek. The Giants lost Martellus Bennett but replaced him with Brandon Myers. That's a lot of tight end talent in the NFC East alone. If Robinson can prove he can cover those guys effectively, it would take pressure off the rookie safeties Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo while opening up a lot of options for the Redskins defense.