The Washington Redskins announced early in the free agency period (and some media members announced far before that) that former Cardinals WR Andre Roberts agreed to a 4-year, $16 million deal. Roberts had a down year last year compared to 2012, but it was more because of the emergence of WR Michael Floyd than his own performance. We all have discussed Jay Gruden's affection for tall WRs, and at 5'11" 195, Roberts doesnt fit that, but ask Andrew Hawkins if Jay Gruden knows how to use smaller WRs.
My first thoughts on the signing:
Andre Roberts will be a good security blanket for Robert Griffin III. With Jordan Reed's injury issues, he'll need another security blanket to fall back on. Enter Andre Roberts. RG3 hasn't shown a penchant for throwing to covered WRs. It's much easier to generate space in short-intermediate area on inside of formation. I hope Jay Gruden gets RG3 to buy into system/who is going to be open but it won't happen overnight. Until then, Roberts/Reed will be good dump off options. You know who else needed a security blanket at first? Carson Palmer. I took a look at the Week 1 match-up of Cardinals vs. Rams. This is what I saw:
#1. It's 3rd and 10. Rams are playing a Zone defense. Roberts has the corner route.
Roberts gets bumped by the LB but stays on course. When Cortland Finnegan breaks on Larry Fitzgerald's out route, Roberts slows his route (find a hole in the zone).
Roberts goes up and makes the catch with his hands out in front. He takes a hard shot in the back from Janoris Jenkins but holds on to the pass. 1st down.
#2. 3rd and 3. Rams are playing Zone defense again. Roberts has the little out route/find a hole in the zone.
Roberts finds the hole in the zone between two Rams defenders and catches the ball past the first down marker.
Roberts turns back inside making the LB miss and racks up some yards after catch. 1st down.
#3. 2nd and 10. Roberts has the out and up from the inside slot.
Rams LB James Laurinaitis bites on the out and when Roberts heads up field, Laurinaitis tries to grab him and slow him down.
#4. 1st and 20. Rams are playing Zone defense. Cardinals running the SMASH concept (a Gruden favorite). Roberts is running the Corner route.
Roberts is open on the Corner route but the pass rush gets to Palmer. Palmer is forced to roll out. Roberts starts working his way back to the quarterback.
Roberts gives Palmer a big target on the sideline. Palmer delivers the ball and Roberts catches the pass high with his hands, gets both feet down and takes a hard shot in the back from S T.J. McDonald.
#5. 3rd and 6. Roberts is running a hitch route from the slot but he really sells the seam route to get the LB running up the field.
Roberts runs like he is bending his route around the LB. When he gets in the LBs blind-spot, the LB starts running up field and Roberts stops and comes back to the ball.
Palmer actually delivers a poor ball but Roberts is able to stretch out and make a fantastic catch. 1st down.
#6. 2nd and 10. Just a simple hitch route by Roberts here with CB in off coverage (Notice Roberts is playing on the outside).
Roberts and Palmer on the same page. Palmer is getting the ball out as Roberts is making his break.
Roberts makes the catch and gets a quick 5 yard gain.
#7. 3rd and 10. Rams are in Man Coverage. Roberts is running a Deep Out from the slot. Cortland Finnegan is covering Roberts.
Roberts gets physical with Finnegan at the top of his break but Finnegan is all over him.
Roberts is able to fight through the contact and make the catch. Finnegan was flagged for illegal contact. Declined. 1st down.
#8. 1st and 10. Rams are in a Cover 2 Zone. Roberts is running a deep hitch from the inside slot into the middle of the field.
Roberts clears the LB and shows Carson Palmer his numbers, giving him a big target.
Carson Palmer is able to avoid the rush, step up in the pocket and deliver the ball it Roberts in the open zone. Gain of 15. 1st down.
This is only one game but here are my quick takeaways: Roberts possesses strong hands. He looks like he has corrected his early issues with drops. He is quicker than fast but has adequate long speed. He gets in and out of his breaks fast. He is able to play on the outside but really thrives on the inside. If you look at many of the sets above, there are a lot of pass catchers on the field (same way Gruden likes to operate offense). Its not the big name that Redskins fans are accustomed to, but this should end up being a solid signing.