Over the next week, Redskins reporter Tarik El-Bashir will examine five candidates to break out in 2013. Today, we’re looking at WR Aldrick Robinson.
Key stats: 11 receptions (19 targets), 237 yards, 3 touchdowns
Contract status: Signed through 2013 ($480,000)
2012: When Pierre Garçon hurt his foot in New Orleans, Robinson stepped in and made four receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown. More important, he earned his first career start in St. Louis. But after dropping a deep ball – and missing two blocks – against the Rams, the first-year player’s role dwindled in subsequent weeks.
Robinson, 24, reemerged after the bye and promptly showed off his game-breaking speed by hauling in touchdown passes of 49 and 68 yards in back-to-back wins over the Eagles and Cowboys. Then, just as quickly, he disappeared again. In fact, Robinson was not targeted once in the five regular season games or the playoff game while lining up for only 30 snaps on offense during that span.
Outlook: Asked about Robinson’s role reduction, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan explained that defensive backs had begun playing him deeper, which hurt Robinson’s stats but opened up underneath routes for others. Robinson's playing time was also negatively impacted by Garçon’s return and Leonard Hankerson’s production in the second half.
There’s no doubt that Robinson must become a more reliable pass catcher, a crisper route runner and a better blocker in order to see the field more regularly. The good news, however, is that those areas can be refined with another offseason of hard work. But you know what can’t be taught? A 4.43 second 40-yard dash and the ability to roast cornerbacks and safeties with that speed. Which is the reason Robinson will remain an intriguing prospect going into next season.