The Washington Redskins produced their first, true head-scratcher of this year's draft by selecting Tulane wide receiver Ryan Grant in the fifth round.
The player is certainly a capable and reliable pass-catcher, but he is joining a position group already overflowing with talent. It's difficult to see exactly where Grant fits in a rotation featuring Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts and Santana Moss.
Washington even has youthful pass-catchers Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson waiting in the wings. Garcon is a roving, big-bodied weapon who can hurt a defense anywhere, Jackson is a scary vertical threat, while Roberts and Robinson are also underrated speedsters.
Moss may have lost a step, but he is still deadly in the red zone. Hankerson has never really played to his potential and is currently recovering from a major knee injury.
The answer to where Grant fits could lie in what is missing from this group, namely a natural slot receiver.
If Hankerson is the odd man out, Grant could take his place and provide a crafty short-range outlet for quarterback Robert Griffin III. That type of wideout can be invaluable to a quarterback, particularly a young passer still working to refine his craft.
Griffin has certainly missed receivers he can trust to always bring the ball in during his first two seasons in the pros. Drops are not a problem Grant is afflicted with, as NFL.com draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki highlights:
Good size. Smooth accelerator off the line. Good flexibility to sink his hips. Tracks throws and shows terrific body control to adjust. Impressive hands catcher -- quick, soft mitts. Makes NFL-caliber catches, snatching throws out of the air away from his body. Determined runner with the ball in his hands. Nice upfield quickness to pick up yards after the catch. Good field awareness.
Nawrocki also credits Grant with "one of the best pair of hands in the draft." Grant certainly has the right attributes to work underneath routes and shallow zones.
Rookie head coach Jay Gruden used Andrew Hawkins in a similar role when he was offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals. With Garcon, Jackson and Roberts stretching coverage deep, the Redskins need an intermediate target.
However, Grant's eventual role will be determined by his willingness to hold up physically. He has a slight frame at 6'0" and 199 pounds, and he won't always fight for the ball.
But if Gruden can move him around and get him into space underneath, Grant could be surprisingly productive.
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