A breakout year for Hankerson?

A breakout year for Hankerson?
July 17, 2013, 1:15 pm
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As camp approaches, all eyes are on Griffin's knee

Tandler - Tarik

By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler

Twenty questions No. 8—Will Leonard Hankerson have a breakout season?

The 2013 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will be examining the top 20 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.

Many thought that Leonard Hankerson was a real steal when the Redskins took the receiver in the third round in 2011. At 6-2 he had the size to be a red zone target and he had the speed to get open deep. Hankerson was showing some promise as a rookie before a hip injury ended his season midway through the schedule. Last year he played 618 snaps and put up respectable numbers, catching 38 passes for 543 yards and three touchdowns. But he still struggled to hold on to the ball, dropping a number of passes and fighting with some of the balls he ended up catching. If he can put some polish on his game and develop consistency (he had one or no receptions in seven games last year) he can be a valuable asset. Year three will be big for him. Will he answer the call?

Rich Tandler: At the end of his rookie season, Hankerson told me that when he came into the league he didn’t really have an appreciation for how much work it took to become a successful NFL receiver. It appears that he took his own words to heart. In OTAs and minicamp this year Hankerson looked less like someone trying to figure out how to be an NFL receiver and more like the real deal. I would be cautious about defining a “breakout” for Hankerson in terms of sheer numbers. The Redskins were 30th in the NFL in pass attempts and they will remain a run-first team. So don’t look for a 1200-yard season out of Hankerson. But if we define a good year for him as something between 800-900 yards, fewer drops and near drops, and a half dozen or so touchdowns, yes, I think he’s very capable of advancing his game to that point.

Tarik El-Bashir: I’m also bullish about Hankerson’s prospects in ‘13. And the reason is this: He just had the first full offseason program of his career to hone his skills and get comfortable (after getting robbed by the lockout in 2011 and the hip injury last year). As Rich pointed out, the 24-year-old looked sharper during OTAs and minicamp. And that should mean he’ll be doing less thinking and more reacting this season. One more reason I believe Hankerson is poised for a breakout: It would make sense for the Redskins’ offense to incorporate more pass plays in light of RG3’s injury. If that turns out to be the case, there will also be more opportunities for Hankerson, whose 57 targets in 2012 ranked behind Santana Moss (61), Pierre Garçon (67) and Josh Morgan (73). More involvement, experience and confidence should = more catches, yards and touchdowns for @HankTime85.

Upcoming on 20 questions

  • Question 7 Thursday: Can Kai Forbath continue his 2012 magic?
  • Question 6 Friday: What can the rookie defensive backs contribute this year?
  • Question 5 Saturday: Can Brandon Meriweather do what he flashed last year for a full season?
  • Question 4 Sunday: What will the depth chart at right tackle look like?

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