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Redskins Mailbag

In this week's mailbag; we discuss who has the bigger year between Hankerson and Robinson, could Shanahan trade Alfred Morris and we look back at the key members of the 2011 draft class.


We're back once again with this week's mailbag. We didn't have too many questions last week, so I carried over the few that I had into this week.

First question.

Absolutely. Shanahan is going to play the guy who is most effective, so if Helu is having a bad run, and Thompson is the next man up, then Thompson will see the field. I personally think Thompson could beat out Helu if he can stay healthy, but that's just me.

Could Helu and Thompson co-exist in the backfield? Yes. They are two very similar players, but there's no reason they couldn't both see the field in read-option packages or have one of them play in the slot to try and create mismatches. I don't think we'd see it too often, but I could definitely see it happen every now and then.

Second question.

This is a tough one. I think if Hankerson can finally step up and claim the Z receiver spot, then I think he'll have a big year. He has the deep speed and the big size that you look for in a receiver, which will probably give him more of an advantage when it comes to opportunities.

Robinson is a big play guy, when he comes on the field, the safeties instantly have to think about the deep shot. He does a great job getting yards after the catch, something that he has in his favor over Hankerson. But ultimately, Garcon offers everything Robinson does and more. Hankerson's size is something the Redskins lack at receiver. I think they Redskins will give Hankerson every chance to succeed, which will limit Robinson's time. So I'll take Hankerson.

Third question.

Since we had 11 players in that class, I won't talk about all of them. Guys like DeJon Gomes and Evan Royster might not even make the team this year. But I'll discuss the main guys.

Ryan Kerrigan: Kerrigan has developed into a very solid all-round player. He has improved his sacks numbers each year despite missing his running mate in Brian Orakpo for most of last year. He's made himself a very good run defender and his awareness to get his hands up and deflect or even intercept passes is fantastic. I'd like to see him be a little bit more aggressive in his pass rushing, but the return of Orakpo along with a more aggressive defense might help him anyway.

Jarvis Jenkins: Improved every game last year after that big knee injury. It was obvious that he was still hesitant on his knee, so he needs to trust it more and put the injury out of his mind. John Keim has point out how he takes too many steps when rushing the passer, which Jenkins has admitted. He needs to be more efficient with his footwork (which by all accounts, he is), and that should help greatly with his pass rush.

Leonard Hankerson: Needs to put it all together. Has shown flashes of ability here and there, but needs to do it on a consistent basis. The tools are there; the speed, the size, the athleticism, its just a case of running as many reps as he can get to help string it all together. The drops are also a concern, but they've always appeared to be a concentration issue. He needs to watch the ball into his hands every time before turning his head upfield.

Roy Helu: First and foremost, he has to get healthy. He appears to be on his way back to nearly 100%, but will he have lost a yard of pace? We won't truly know until preseason. If he can get back to where he was before the injury, then its a huge plus for this offense. His speed is something Alfred Morris lacks. If healthy, he (and Thompson) can help push Morris all the way for that starting spot. Good competition is always nice to have at the running back spot.

Niles Paul: The drops! HAS to sort out the drops. With the return of Fred Davis and drafting Jordan Reed, Paul will have a fight for playing time on his hands. He actually did an OK job getting open last year, he just couldn't be trusted to secure the catch. He needs to continue to be a special teams ace and make himself uncut-able in that regard. Then make the most of any opportunities he sees on offense. He can be easily forgotten by defenses, leading to touchdowns like the one against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

Fourth question.

Top five might be a bit of a stretch. The way this team has been built now is to run the clock down and get ahead on offense and force the other team to be playing catch up against the clock. Then the defense has to force pressure and create turnovers. With an offense like ours, teams are naturally going to get passing yards against us because they're playing catch up. So statistically, they probably won't be a top five defense. But by drafting David Amerson, Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo to go along with the return of Brian Orakpo, the Redskins are set up to be aggressive and cause a lot of problems. Heavy blitzes force rushed throws, which the three ballhawk rookies (and DeAngelo Hall) love to jump on.

Some of the recent super bowl teams have been similar. The Saints and the Packers both had opportunistic defenses that played with a lead and created a lot of turnovers. That's exactly what I'm expecting of this Redskins defense.

Fifth and final question.

Unless Vinny Cerrato lands another job in the NFL, no. If you get the equivalent offer of a shutdown corner (Bailey) and a second round pick for him, then yes, obviously you do it. But nobody in today's NFL is going to offer that. Plus, I think Morris going to be the guy here for quite some time. He gets a lot of credit taken away from him because of Robert Griffin III and the read-option plays, but Morris is a terrific player in his own right. For me, the only thing he lacks is break away speed. But he more than makes up for that with his vision, balance, lower body strength and patience. I'm not going to get carried away and call him the next Terrell Davis or anything like that, but I do believe he can be a real franchise back for years to come.

That's it for this week. Don't forget to leave your questions for next week's mailbag.