Redskins needs analysis: Wide receiver

Redskins needs analysis: Wide receiver
March 6, 2014, 2:15 pm
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If you’ve read any Redskins related articles lately, you’ve no doubt encountered the phrase “lots of needs to address.” Indeed, the team has many holes, ranging from wide receiver to punter, that it must fill between the start of free agency on March 11 and Week 1 in September.

In the coming days, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will identify those needs and present various ways the team can fill them.

Yesterday we looked at punter and the defensive line; today it’s the wide receivers.

Position: Wide receiver

On the roster: Pierre Garçon, who set a team record with 113 pass receptions last year, is the only reliably productive receiver on the roster. Leonard Hankerson, who was the other starter before tearing his ACL in mid-November, may not be ready for training camp. Aldrick Robinson is fast but the other aspects of his game are suspect. Nick Williams might get you catch here and there but he is a fourth or fifth receiver.

A lot of what the team might need here comes down to whether or not Hankerson is ready. If he is, the team can find a slot receiver and be good to go. If not, they need a reliable No. 2 option. The problem is, the draft and free agency are in the spring and we won’t know for sure about Hankerson until late July.

Free agents: Josh Morgan and Santana Moss are both free agents. It is unlikely that Morgan will be back. Although the Redskins have had some contract talks with Moss the team may want to move on from their leading receiver of the last decade, who will be 35 in June.

Free agent possibilities The good thing here is that there are over 50 veteran wide receivers ready to hit the free agent market next Tuesday. The large supply will not only help the Redskins find the type of receiver they want, it should also drive down prices.

Regardless of supply, the top receivers like the Broncos’ Eric Decker and Golden Tate of the Seahawks will make top dollar and likely will be out of the Redskins’ price range. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of help. Julian Edelman could take Moss’ slot position or the Redskins might spend a little less and get someone like Jerome Simpson, who was with Jay Gruden in Cincinnati for a while, or Brandon LaFell of the Panthers.

An intriguing possibility is Andrew Hawkins of the Bengals. Gruden coaxed 51 receptions for 533 yards in 2012 out of the 5-7 receiver but an injury cut last season short. He’s a restricted free agent but the tag on him carries no compensation.

Draft possibilities: Every analyst you listen to believes that this is one of the the strongest drafts for wide receivers ever. If the Redskins want to pick a wide receiver with their top pick (No. 34 overall) they might find Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State or Brandin Cooks of Oregon State there for them. Jarvis Landry of LSU and Donte Moncrief might be there in the third.

Prediction: The Redskins need to view Hankerson as a bonus. If he can play, great, if not they need a backup plan. I think they sign a lower-tier free agent like LaFell and draft Benjamin if he’s there or Landry if he’s not.