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Roster Review: Wide Receivers

Posted Feb 28, 2012

With free agency and the NFL Draft fast approaching, Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the Redskins' roster position by position. Up next: wide receivers.


With free agency and the NFL Draft fast approaching, Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the Redskins' roster position by position. Up next: wide receivers.

In 2011, the Redskins entered training camp with a wide-open competition at wide receiver. The team retained five receivers from 2010, drafted three, traded for one and signed another, all in a search of a winning combination.

The Redskins ended up carrying eight receivers most of the season, as the team dealt with injuries and ineffectiveness. None of the receivers started all 16 games, although Jabar Gaffney did appear in every contest.

Brought in as part of a training camp trade with Denver last July, Gaffney was the team’s most productive receiver, catching 68 passes for 947 yards and five touchdowns. Each of these marks was a career-high for the 10-year veteran, as he was reunited with his college quarterback in Rex Grossman.

Fellow veteran Santana Moss had a somewhat disappointing 2011 campaign, as he was limited by a broken hand suffered in Week 7 vs. Carolina. He still finished with 12 starts and 46 receptions for 584 yards and four touchdowns, working primarily out of the slot receiver position.

Second-year receiver Anthony Armstrong, coming off a strong 2010 campaign, started off slowly last season but was able to salvage playing time at the end of the year.

Noted for his outside speed, Armstrong had only seven receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns. His most memorable play was a game-winning 50-yard touchdown catch vs. Seattle in Week 12.

Leonard Hankerson, a 2011 third-round draft pick, stepped up midseason for the Redskins. Known for his good size and big hands, Hankerson earned two starts and led the team in Week 10 vs. Miami with 106 receiving yards.

Unfortunately, a hip injury suffered near the end of the Dolphins game ended his season.

Free agent acquisition Donte Stallworth served two stints on the team. He was cut before the Miami game and then re-signed afterwards to replace Hankerson.

Stallworth had 22 receptions for 309 yards and two touchdowns, but he may have been more valuable to the team for his role as a mentor to the younger players.

After it was apparent that Moss would miss time, the team signed former Houston Texans wide out David Anderson to fill his role in the slot. Anderson appeared in four games, and caught six passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Anderson split time with 2010 holdover Terrence Austin, primarily a special teams contributor in 2011. Austin appeared in a career-high 13 games in 2011 and had 12 receptions for 137 yards.

Brandon Banks and Niles Paul contributed on offense, but they did most of their work in 2011 on special teams.

Banks led the league in return yards on kick and punt coverage, and late in the season he saw a handful of plays at wide receiver, posting one catch. He also threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Moss on a wide receiver option in Week 14 against the New England Patriots.

Paul appeared in 13 games and logged two receptions for 25 yards. He was fifth on the team in special teams tackles.

Rookie receiver Aldrick Robinson, a 2011 sixth-round draft choice, was promoted to the roster from the practice squad late last season, but he did not play in any games.


GARY FITZGERALD'S POSITIONAL ANALYSIS

Moss and Gaffney are 32 and 31, respectively, so the Redskins may want to continue to infuse youth at wide receiver this offseason.

Hankerson showed promise as a starter for two games but he suffered a season-ending hip injury and he could be sidelined at least a portion of off-season work.

Armstrong enters his third season in Washington knowing he needs to rebound from a disappointing 2011 campaign.

Youngsters Austin and Paul also flashed some potential but not enough to secure significant roles on offense. Robinson remains a developmental prospect.

Stallworth and Anderson enter the offseason as unrestricted free agents, so their future is uncertain. Stallworth, 31, emerged late last season as a clutch receiver so it may be worthwhile to bring him back.

With the Redskins' offense clearly in need of more playmakers, it would not be surprising if the Redskins signed a top free agent wide receiver or added a top prospect early in April's draft.


Three NFL Wide Receivers Eligible for Free Agency

As of February 28, 2012; names listed are in no particular order

-- Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers: With the exception of 2010 when he held out most of the season, Jackson has averaged more than 60 receptions, 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns in three of the last four seasons. At 6-5 and 230 pounds, he represents a big target and at 29 years old he is still in his prime.

-- Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints: Even though Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a master at spreading the ball around, his top receiver has always been Colston. The Hofstra University product has cracked 70 receptions and 1,000 yards in five of his six professional seasons, and at 28, he is just entering his prime.

-- Mario Manningham, New York Giants: As a division opponent, the Redskins have gotten a good look at Manningham in his first three seasons. The hero of Super Bowl XLVI is hitting free agency for the first time and will be looking for an opportunity to play a larger role in a team’s offense. At 6-0, 185 pounds, he lacks prototypical size, but his speed and hands make him an intriguing target.

Three Wide Receivers Available In NFL Draft

As of February 28, 2012; names listed are in no particular order

-- Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State: Widely regarded as the top wide receiver prospect in the draft, Blackmon has logged 100 catches and 1,500 receiving yards each of the last two years and posted 40 career touchdown grabs. Scouts say he lacks great straight-line speed but he excels beating press coverage and runs clean routes.

-- Michael Floyd, Notre Dame: A three-year starter, Floyd caught a career-best 100 passes for 1,147 yards to go along with nine touchdown grabs last season. He has great suddenness coming off the line of scrimmage and his 6-3, 224-pound frame makes him a threat catching balls in traffic. Alcohol-related issues have cropped up in his past, though.

-- Kendall Wright, Baylor: Wright was thought to have great speed, but he posted a surprisingly slow 4.61 40 time at the NFL Scouting Combine. Still, he was one of college football’s top receiving threats last year, catching passes from Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Wright posted108 receptions for 1,663 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior.