This could very well be Hankerson's breakout year.
Heading into the 2013 season, the Washington Redskins are in pretty good shape.
They were able to retain some of their most important pieces in free agency, and they also greatly aided their secondary through the draft.
Their most important player, Robert Griffin III, appears to be making good progress after undergoing major knee surgery just under five months ago. He has progressed at an extremely quick rate, but the Redskins must still proceed with caution.
The offensive line is still mediocre—while it didn’t get worse, it didn’t get a whole lot better either. Meanwhile, the receiver position is one of the most competitive preseason battles right now, as there are a lot of youngsters pushing the veterans for their respective roster spots.
Now that Washington has just about wrapped up OTAs, there are a handful of players whose stock is on the rise. Whether they are coming off of an injury, or simply if they are an unproven player, there is an array of players working their way up the ladder.
Here are five Redskins players whose stock is on the rise after OTAs.
Aldrick Robinson's speed makes him a valuable offensive weapon for Washington.
Aldrick Robinson has been an interesting player to follow since he joined the Redskins.
At first, many saw him solely as a return man because of his speed, but he proved last season that he can be depended upon in a role with the offense. Although he didn’t have a mind-blowing season statistically, he made enough strides to raise some eyebrows at Redskins Park.
Fast forward to the present: Robinson is in prime position to prove himself as the successor to Santana Moss. While Moss has been one of the more consistent receivers during his time in the NFL, he is definitely nearing the end of his career.
Robinson’s small stature and blazing speed make him a seemingly perfect replacement for Moss, seeing as the latter is also both small and speedy.
Moss will more than likely remain ahead of Robinson on the depth chart, but look for Robinson to see a more sizable role next season.
Phillip Thomas was a Bulldog on and off the field in college.
Phillip Thomas was a pretty quality pick for the Redskins in this year's draft. His hard-hitting ability and knack for being a ballhawk are part of what make him such a dangerous defender.
Thomas has the ideal size for a safety and is a great fit for Jim Haslett’s defense. He's pretty versatile and has a nose for the football. He is an all-around good player, but is more of a "jack of all trades and master of none" type of guy.
Thomas will more than likely prove to be an important piece of Washington’s defense this season, though, because of his ability to play more than one defensive back position.
Thomas is the future for the Redskins on defense.
Crawford adds great depth at the corner position, and is a special teams ace.
A late-round pick who turned into a hero late last season for the Redskins, Richard Crawford has been turning some heads recently.
He really came on for Washington toward the end of last season and looks like he will be Brandon Banks’ replacement as a returner.
Crawford has great length and speed for a corner, although he does need to tighten up his fundamentals. He saw an increase in playing time down the stretch last season and should see even more in 2013.
Hankerson is primed for a big year.
Hankerson was drafted pretty high a few years ago, and he hasn’t quite lived up to his potential. He has certainly shown progression over the years, but it is time for him to step up in a big way, and he will have every opportunity to shine next season.
Hankerson was a good friend to RG3 on the field at times last season, and he should be even more improved this year. He is likely absorbing a lot from Garçon, Moss and Morgan, and he will be replacing them sooner than later.
RG3 will be back and better than ever in 2013.
The most important person on Washington’s roster seems to have the most question marks surrounding him. Robert Griffin III had a pretty magical rookie season, and general football logic would tell you that he should be even more improved in 2013—if it weren’t for his injury, that is.
After tearing his ACL in Washington’s first-round playoff game last season, rumors surrounding his status for 2013 and his recovery time spread like wildfire.
Now that we are just over three months away from the start of the season, it looks more likely that RG3 will be all in for Week 1.
Renowned doctor James Andrews spoke about RG3’s knee to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (per ProFootballTalk):
He is an unbelievable athlete as you well know. His recovery is way ahead of schedule so far. We don’t have to do much but try to hold him back, if you want to know the truth. Our whole mode for him, though, is to do what is best for his career, not necessarily what is best for the first game next season. So all of that has to be put on hold and let him get well.
Could Griffin III have a record-breaking season like Adrian Peterson did in 2012? We’ll see.
For now, though, there is still much to be hopeful for regarding Griffin III, who has been throwing in OTAs, and with zip, too. All signs point to the former Heisman winner being ready for the start of the season, but only time will tell.
As for right now, he looks darn good for a guy who ripped his knee to shreds a few months ago.