5 Washington Redskins Poised for a Breakout Campaign in 2013
The 2012 season was a coming out party for the entire Washington Redskins organization, with Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris becoming instant successes in their first professional seasons.
Not everyone in Washington has had their breakthrough moment yet, but 2013 could be a year for a handful of Redskins to burst onto the scene.
While the media may be focused on Robert Griffin III, the Redskins are focused on getting better to improve upon their 10-6 record from a season ago. That effort will be bolstered by a few players who have only scratched the surface of their talent before now.
Here are the Redskins who could turn in their breakout performances in 2013.
Ryan Kerrigan, OLB
With Brian Orakpo out for most of the year in 2012, it fell to Ryan Kerrigan to shoulder the pass-rushing load. Kerrigan, however, is not the beast of a bull-rusher that Orakpo is, and he often found himself stopped dead in his tracks or run out of plays in one-on-one matchups.
With a healthy Orakpo and another season under his belt, Kerrigan could push for his first double-digit sack season.
Kerrigan's greatest asset is his motor. It keeps him in the play and often times, in the right place at the right time. In each of his first two seasons, he has returned an interception for a touchdown.
With their revamped secondary, the Redskins' pass rush should see a nice increase in sack totals, with either Kerrigan or Orakpo leading the way.
Tyler Polumbus, RT
If I were Tyler Polumbus, I'd be royally ticked throughout this offseason. He was thrust into the starting right tackle spot in 2012 and performed admirably, though he struggled in pass protection.
The Redskins responded by signing Tony Pashos, Jeremy Trueblood and the undrafted Xavier Nixon out of Florida, in an apparent effort to supplant Polumbus.
What no one expects out of Polumbus is the potential to genuinely win the starting job, rather than being the lesser of the available evils at the position. He has everything to gain this season, and while he has an uphill battle ahead of him, he could prove everyone wrong and be the bookend Washington needs.
Leonard Hankerson, WR
Leonard Hankerson is entering his third NFL season, the time at which is widely believed most receivers break out. The Redskins are counting on Pierre Garcon to be their top receiver in 2013, but the depth chart behind him is pretty wide open.
With Santana Moss filling the role of slot receiver, Hankerson really only has to beat out Josh Morgan, which shouldn't be that hard.
Beating out Morgan for a higher depth chart position is hardly the ultimate goal. But if Hankerson can make the most of his size, speed and strength, he could be a double-digit touchdown target this season—and that is no exaggeration.
If not for a hip injury that cut his rookie season short, Hankerson might have shown more flashes last season than his three touchdowns and 38 receptions revealed.
Brian Orakpo, OLB
One could argue that Orakpo had his breakout year as a rookie, where he tallied 11 sacks. But in 2013 he will be returning from a disappointing, injury-shortened season, as well as entering his first contract year.
He opened his career with 11 sacks as a 4-3 defensive end but has spent the last three seasons as a 3-4 outside linebacker. It has been an adjustment, with Orakpo failing to register double-digit sacks in two complete seasons before his 2012 injury.
Though he isn't the type of player just looking for a fat contract, it helps to have that kind of incentive, and it only adds fuel to a fire that could light up the NFL with 15-plus sacks.
Bacarri Rambo, S
Though Bacarri Rambo doesn't have any NFL experience, he may be the biggest breakout candidate for the Redskins this season. He was viewed as a top-10 safety but fell to the sixth round where the 'Skins snapped him up.
The questions regarding Rambo's off-field issues will be answered and summarily silenced with his rookie campaign.
A sixth-round draft mark means he doesn't have to play up to expectations. But rather he can play with a chip on his shoulder and show the critics he's every bit as talented, if not more talented, than the 17 safeties drafted before him.
Rambo gets to prove he wasn't just the beneficiary of a strong defense, and not at all the character concern he'd been built up to be leading up to the draft.