Mike Shanahan selected 21 players in the 2011 and 2012 drafts, and the 17 who remain on the roster are set to enter a critical stage in their development. In the coming weeks, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take a look at what those players have accomplished thus far and what they still must do in order to solidify their status in the NFL.
Who: Leonard Hankerson
Position: Wide receiver
Draft year/round/pick: 2011/3/79
Career to date:
Hankerson’s career has consisted of some promising moments followed by disappointment. It took him a while to get on to the field as a rookie. He confessed that he didn’t realize how much work it would take to make the transition from college to the NFL. As a rookie it took him several games for him to work his way onto the game day active list. Hankerson then found his way into the starting lineup by midseason and had his first (and, to date, only) 100-yard receiving game in Week 9 against the Dolphins (8 rec., 106 yards).
But a hip injury he suffered in that game ended his season early and cost him much of the 2012 offseason program. That didn’t prevent him from having a solid season. Hankerson caught 38 passes for 543 yards and three touchdowns as the Redskins won the NFC East.
In 2013 his season was again cut short by injury. This time it was a torn ACL he suffered Week 10 in Philadelphia. With 30 receptions for 375 yards and three touchdowns, Hankerson was on pace to improve his 2012 stats marginally (pace over 16 games, 48 rec, 600 yards, 5 TD).
Outlook for 2014:
Hankerson is entering a pivotal year. Jay Gruden has tended to favor taller wide receivers and at 6-feet-2 Hankerson fills the bill there. But he doesn’t possess great speed or ability to pick up yards after the catch, two traits that are valued in the West Coast offense.
His challenge will be to learn a new offense while he deals with rehabbing the knee injury. The timing of the injury (it happened in mid November) is such that it seems that he is out of any OTAs or minicamps. Training camp will come about eight and a half months after his injury. An ACL tear generally means a seven to nine month rehab so it’s possible that he will be ready for camp. However, everyone heals at a different rate so we will have to see as we get closer.
It’s hard to see Hankerson not making the 53-man roster this year, assuming he is healthy by the start of the season. But with the Redskins likely to bring in some wide receivers via free agency and the draft, he could be in for a fight for playing time.