What Leonard Hankerson Has to Do to Become a Star for the Washington Redskins

Dilan Ames@@DilanAmesNFLCorrespondent IJune 27, 2013

Hankerson could be amazing.
Hankerson could be amazing.Larry French/Getty Images

Heading into his third year with the Washington Redskins, Leonard Hankerson has a lot to prove. 

When he was drafted, he was expected to take on a more sizable role than he did. Although he has been developing slower than the coaches had hoped, he has shown flashes of being a tremendous offensive weapon for Robert Griffin III

Hankerson played in all 16 regular-season games last year and totaled 38 catches for 543 yards and three touchdowns. Hankerson ended the season with more yards and touchdowns than teammate Josh Morgan and was within 100 yards of both Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon’s season totals. 

Pro Football Focus (h/t Hogs Haven) ranks Hankerson 15th in the NFL when it comes to percentage of catches for first downs or touchdowns (45 percent). The kid definitely is good with the ball in his hands; it’s holding on to the ball that has been his issue. 

Drops were a major hindrance in making Hankerson a main fixture of the offense, but that’s nothing that can’t be coached. If he does correct his shortcomings, then he could be an absolute star. It’s not like he doesn’t have the tools; Hankerson is very athletically gifted. He has 4.4 speed, good size and is a solid route-runner—it’s his hands that get him in trouble. 

Hankerson got a pretty good taste of the spotlight last year, starting five games when Garcon was out with injury. 

In 2013, Hankerson should expect to be targeted more by RG3. This could very well be Moss’ final season, and Hankerson will have to prove that he is what he was drafted to be: a big, speedy receiver who can make a difference for his team. 

This coming season could be Hankerson’s last shot to prove he’s been worth the wait. Fred Davis will be back in the lineup along with Garcon, and the addition of Jordan Reed makes for a good deal of competition.

The keys to Hankerson becoming a star for Washington are actually very simple. 

For one, he has to catch the ball; let’s just chalk up these past two years to him having a bad case of the T.O.'s, although his hip injury was also a big part of it. 

Two: He must become a better run-blocker. He doesn’t add a whole lot on special teams, so becoming a better blocker on the outside like Morgan would make him less expendable. 

Finally, he has to be confident. It’s going to be easy for him to get shaken during camp; he’ll be looking over his shoulder a lot between the savvy veterans and young pass-catchers on the team. More than just in practice and during training camp, Hankerson has to be more confident on the field. 

Because of the read-option, there is almost always a soft spot in the middle of the field—he must take advantage of this. With his speed, he could easily take one to the house on any play, it’s just a matter of catching the ball and not being afraid of the safety coming in hot over the top to knock off his block (Dr. Seuss-ing not intended). 

Hankerson has all the potential in the world, but how often do we see potential go to waste? For his sake, and for the sake of the organization, I hope this is a time where nothing is wasted.