This time last year, the Washington Redskins were preparing to select Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Even with Griffin III in the fold, few were picking the Burgundy and Gold to climb out of the cellar of the NFC East, especially with a defending Super Bowl Champion on the schedule for two different tilts.
Well we all know that the Redskins ended up being the breakout team of the 2012 NFL season, storming into the playoffs by the way of a miraculous seven-game winning streak to end the season and besting their division rivals with a 5-1 record against the NFC East.
With OTAs officially underway at Redskins Park, find out who ESPN’s Matt Williamson believes will be the breakout player for the 2013 campaign including a video of his best play of the 2012 season here:
“I do think Hankerson should be in line for a much bigger role and his skill set fits what Mike Shanahan wants to do with this offensive attack.”
In the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins selected the University of Miami prospect with the 79th overall pick. Before Hankerson went down with multiple injuries during his rookie season, he lit up the Miami’s professional team with eight catches for 106 yards in only his second career start.
Hankerson picked up right where he left off, as his first catch of the 2013 campaign was a 68-touchdown at the St. Louis Rams in Week 2.
In Washington’s first home game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Hankerson hauled in four catches, all for first downs. Quickly, he showed the Redskins and the rest of the league that he was a threat to move the chains each time he touched the ball.
In a Week 14 showdown of two eventual playoff participants, Hankerson showed the Baltimore Ravens just how clutch he can be with the pigskin in his possession. He would catch four balls on the day for 67 yards, and once again, proved that he can be a play maker when given the opportunity.
His finally catch, though, may have been the most important play of the season.
With the Redskins down eight late in the fourth quarter and the ball on their own 15-yard line, time was ticking on tying the affair. Hankerson, however, wasn’t concerned with the time crunch. On quarterback Kirk Cousins’s first pass attempt of the game, No.12 connect with N0. 85 for a 15 yard gain that would set up the game-tying touchdown on the next play.
The next week, Hankerson had a career game, grabbing two touchdown catches including a marvelous 54-yard juggling act in triple coverage!
Hankerson’s importance in the Redskins read-option offense, however, may extend beyond catching the ball in 2013.
“First of all, wide receivers must be very good blockers in this offense. Hankerson has the size and overall physicality to develop into a very good edge blocker.”
With record-setting running back Alfred Morris and the return of Roy Helu Jr., expect for Hankerson and the rest of the receiving core to be blocking for the tandem as the two look to continue their dominance between the tackles as well as on the edge.
Ultimately, Williamson believes that Hankerson’s talents are best suited in short-yardage situations.
“He also is built to run quick-hitting routes like slants — which work really well off Washington’s fantastic play-action game — and to do something after the catch with a physical running style.”
So Redskins Nation, how do you think Hankerson will do in his third season in the DMV?
Tags: Alfred Morris, Kirk Cousins, leonard hankerson, Robert Griffin III, Roy Helu Jr.
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