Every year in the N.F.L. there are young players who, finally comfortable with their playbooks and the speed of the game-have big years that launch careers. Last year players like Jason Pierre Paul, Geno Atkins, NaVorro Bowman, Pat Angerer,had their best years and justified the faith their teams had in them when they made them high draft picks. Other players like LaDarius Webb, Brandon Bowner, and Victor Cruz showed that breakout players can come from anywhere.
Throughout the summer I’ll highlight some players I believe are poised for big seasons in 2012 whether it is because I really liked what I saw from them in college or they flashed brilliance last year. The first player I highlighted was San Diego Chargers WR Vincent Brown.
Today I’ll dip back into the WR well and pull up Leonard Hankerson the Redskins 2nd round pick in the 2011 N.F.L. draft. Leonard Hankerson is a big bodied WR who has a good work ethic. With the first pick highlighted Hankerson in this scouting report the summary which I’ll post here.
Leonard Hankerson has shown great discipline and work ethic during his tenure at Miami. He was highly touted out of high school, and things didn’t start off so well in college. He had a difficult time focusing, often dropping easy balls. It took him some time to adjust to the college game. He eventually buckled down and worked his butt off to become one of the top receivers in the nation in 2010. Hankerson has the size, hands, and big play ability to be a solid receiver in the NFL. At his size, he is very versatile. He has experience playing outside the hashes and in the slot. With his huge frame, he has proven to be quite dangerous in the slot. He knows how to sit in empty zones and work the seams, similar to Saints receiver, Marques Colston. The team that drafts him can line him up all over the field to create mismatches. Hankerson isn’t in the same class as AJ Green and Julio Jones, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a quality receiver. With further development, he can become a bona fide number one receiver. Right now, he is a solid number two. Look for Hankerson to come off the board in round two.
Like many young players 2011 was a weird year because there was really no off-season for rookies and it took awhile for them to learn their play books and adjust (unless they were insane athletes like Cam Newton, Julio Jones, and Aldon Smith), but with a full off-season he should be helped. Hankerson did not put up big numbers last year only 13 receptions for 163 yards, and he started the season slowly, but really came on in the middle of the year. Just when he hit his stride with a breakout performance against the Dolphins (8 receptions and a 163 yards) Hankerson hurt his hip and was sent to the I.R.
I like Hankeron’s ability to stretch the field a bit, and create mismatches with his size in the intermediate passing game. Hankerson will have to show that he’s learned some techniques to help him separate more because he will not do that routinely with his average athleticism. I also like Hankerson’s chance to break out this year because his quarterback is now much more talented than last year even if RGIII does not have the same experience as Grossman he should be an immediate upgrade. I also think that the Redskins going out and signing Pierre Garcon will take pressure off Leonard Hankerson. The Redskins also added Josh Morgan, but I expect Hankerson to beat out Morgan and win the #2 WR spot.
Leonard Hankerson is a player to watch out for in 2012, and while I do not think a Victor Cruz like year is coming, I can see a year where he goes for 900 yards and 6 or 7 touchdowns and establishes himself as a player to worry about in the future. and a true future #1 WR
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