Quick Links

Draft class of 2011 trying to make its mark

hankerson-td-titans.png

Draft class of 2011 trying to make its mark

The Redskins’ draft class of 2010 has made its mark with Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams and rising star linebacker Perry Riley. The class of ’12 has RG3 and Alfred Morris to brag about.

But the class of 2011 is, well, a work in progress. It was a huge class with 12 players drafted due to a series of trades. But among those dozen prospects, only Ryan Kerrigan has established himself as a quality starter. Of the other 11 players, nine are still with the team. Jarvis Jenkins started 14 games at defensive end last year due to Adam Carriker’s injury but he was quite average. Other than him, nobody drafted that year has started more than a handful of games.

In tonight’s preseason game against the Titans tonight, however, we saw some of the members of that draft class show some signs that they could start to make their presence felt.

Roy Helu Jr., the team’s fourth-round pick that year, looked like the player who led the team in rushing in 2011. In fact, he looked even better in some respects. In a half of playing time, Helu carried the ball 13 times for 57 yards. He also had an 18-yard run called back due to a holding penalty.

Helu showed why the Redskins were so high on him in 2011, finding running lanes behind the Redskins zone-blocking scheme. His quickness and burst, missing as he suffered from a variety of injuries late in 2011 and for much of last year, were back.

No matter how well Helu plays, he isn’t going to beat out Alfred Morris for the starting job. But there is an opening for a change-of-pace back and Helu could perform well in that role.

Leonard Hankerson has been on an uneven career trajectory since he was the Redskins’ third-round pick in ’11. The coaches didn’t think his game had enough polish initially and he was inactive in several games early in his rookie year. When he got into the lineup he had a big game against the Dolphins before suffering a hip injury that ended his season. Last year, he was up and down.

Tonight, Hankerson was up. He had four catches for 38 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown pass that showed some ability to run after the catch. His best play was his last, the touchdown pass.

Grossman threw Hankerson a little screen right about at the line of scrimmage. Hankerson cut inside to take advantage of a block by Tom Compton, built up some team and dove through blocks by Josh LeRibeus and Kevin Matthews to get into the end zone.

Hankerson has an opportunity to take the starting job opposite Pierre Garçon. Mike Shanahan said last week that consistency was the key for Hankerson so we will have to see what he does in the coming weeks to get a handle on his prospects.

Hankerson and Helu weren’t the only two members of their draft class to perform well. Kerrigan got a sack in very limited action. Evan Royster led the team in rushing with 14 carries for 62 yards. Wide receiver Aldrick Robinson had two receptions for 28 yards but he did have a bad drop that helped kill a drive.

There is a long way to go from playing well in the first preseason game to establishing yourself in your third NFL season. That is where the class of 2011 is and the third year is often considered “make or break”. But you have to start somewhere and a few of those players facing pivotal seasons got off to a good start tonight.

Quick Links

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 7 worst play of 2016

Giants at Redskins, Week 17

4:02 left in Q4, Giants ball 1st and 10 at their own 31, game tied 10-10

Eli Manning pass deep left to Tavarres King pushed ob at WAS 25 for 44 yards (Will Blackmon).

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: It looked like the Redskins were on the verge of saving their season. They were down 10-0 in the third quarter but they battled back to tie it up in the late going. But after lulling the Redskins defense to sleep with running plays and short passes, Manning launched one deep down the left sideline. King, who had one reception for six yards on the season coming into the game, had a step on cornerback Greg Toler and he hauled in the pass for 44 yards. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants the lead.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: In a terrible game that led to many more questions than answers for the Redskins, this play was just a huge, huge disappointment. Washington fought back to tie up a game that they had largely been outplayed in, particulrly in the first half. Remember, the Giants had nothing to play for while for the 'Skins, a win would put them in the playoffs. The New York offense was laregly nonexistent in the second half of this game, as it became obvious Eli Manning did not want to get hit. And still, the embattled Redskins defense gave up a long pass play to a dude that had contrbuted basically nothing all season. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

MORE REDSKINS: Kevin O'Connell to be hired as QB coach

What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!