And right before the season ended, Aldrick Robinson showed them something as well. He could be more than just a downfield speed guy. But was it truly the start of something?
As the Redskins enter the offseason, both of these young receivers will be part of many discussions and questions: How much can the Redskins really count on either player? Hankerson needed surgery to fix his lateral collateral ligament as well as his anterior cruciate ligament. The rehab will take seven to nine months; if it takes the full length then he won’t return until mid-August.
The previous staff viewed him as a potential slot receiver, a role he already knows. But can they count on him to learn a new offense and be ready for the start of the season?
“The big question mark is how Leonard will come back,” Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay said. “I know it will be a while. He has the ability and traits you’re looking for in a guy and he was just beginning to reach that potential and show he can be a very good receiver.”
Robinson has mostly played the X receiver spot, though late in the year he also played some Z opposite Pierre Garcon. Robinson struggled for much of the year getting in synch with the quarterbacks. Sometimes he’d run his routes too fast or at the wrong depth, throwing off the timing. Or he’d just be missed. There were also three drops.
He also had the reputation of being a one-trick receiver. According to ESPN Stats & Information, only three of Robinson’s 18 catches traveled longer than 20 yards in the air (those three grabs totaled 148 yards. Hankerson had three such catches as well, but for only 74 yards). So 13 of Robinson’s grabs were on passes that traveled 15 yards or less in the air. And nine of those occurred in the final four weeks of the season.
“Aldrick shows that he has that elite trait to stretch the field vertically,” McVay said. “Anytime you do that you put fear in defenses. He’ll continue to get better as far as playing receiver and running intermediate and shorter routes so you can find other ways to get him the ball rather than just throwing the deep ball.”
Even McVay said it remains to be seen how their 2013 seasons translate to the future. The answer likely will come in the moves Washington makes -- or doesn't make.