Because there's nothing else to talk about this offseason.
Really, this lockout is probably the most unfair to the rookies. Rookies who should be in the classroom and getting into the groove of the way things work are instead sitting on the sidelines, waiting for a lockout that they had nothing to do with to end, being fought for a cause that, while possibly just, is becoming increasingly futile.
Still, it seems likely that there will be an NFL season, and if/when there is, the Redskins will need to count on their younger players to step up and make plays. The Redskins drafted 12 players in this draft, and a lot of them have a legitimate chance to make the football team and contribute immediately. They might not all start, but some of these guys will contribute on offense and defense at some point during the year, and a few of them will surprise with big seasons.
So, let's take a look at some bold rookie projections for the 2011 NFL season.
Leonard Hankerson fancied himself a first-round talent. The Redskins fanbase figure they finally have their number one receiver.
In 2011, they'll find that's true.
While he won't start the season on top of the depth chart officially, the Redskins will try to get the ball in their rookie wide receivers' hands as often as possible. Kyle Shanahan will have a nice toy to play with in the offense; Kyle loves to be able to move his wide receivers around. Hankerson can play outside or in the slot, and he'll move around a lot.
He may not be Andre Johnson (yet), but Kyle will move him around like he does, and Hankerson will make just as many plays; no matter who the quarterback is. His great hands and his advanced route running will make him an invaluable asset, and while he'll have a few concentration drops, he'll surprise a lot of people in his rookie year. Dare I say, he'll have a better season than one of the two top ranked receivers, Julio Jones and/or A.J Green.
Hankerson will make heads turns, and will make Redskins fans very happy.
73 receptions, 1,015 yards, nine receiving touchdowns.
Niles Paul makes the team and is a solid possession receiver throughout the season. He doesn't start from the beginning of the year, but an injury to a veteran (or probably Malcolm Kelly) will force him into the third receiver role. Paul will be a little raw, and he'll make some crazy baffling drops, but he'll get more consistent as the season goes on and eventually becomes a solid receiver who can also go outside the numbers.
It's all about versality. Niles Paul will bring it not just to the offense, but on special teams and in the return game. By the end of the season, Paul becomes a solid wide receiving threat that fans will love having on the team, even though he has a little of the Diva receiver attitude in him.
But sometimes, having some swag is a good thing.
53 receptions, 623 yards, three touchdowns, one punt return touchdown
Bold Prediction: Roy Helu breaks a 73-yard run versus the Giants in Week 1 and doesn't look back.
Helu brings the one thing fans were clamoring for—speed, and the coaches were looking for; speed. Not just speed, but an insane work ethic and drive. Helu makes the Opening Day roster and starts being a huge change of pace for the offense. There's some questions about his willingness to run between the tackles and block, but Helu is tougher than he looks, and he'll show himself to be more effective.
Helu will slowly but surely become the starting running back when injuries force Ryan Torain out. He'll break out and then become the every down back, adding the run game the Redskins desperately wanted. He'll get stronger as the season goes on and be a fantasy football stud, as well as a stud on the field.
215 attempts, 1,110 yards rushing, seven rushing touchdowns, 18 receptions, 137 yards, one receiving touchdowns
Forget the speed. Yeah, I know. He didn't run the fastest 40 and he's from Penn State and he shouldn't even play, what a wasted pick...
Whatever. Royster will prove a lot of people wrong. Not right away; the Redskins will carry Royster onto the 53-man roster, but he won't be active for the first three weeks. When Ryan Torain gets banged up, Royster comes into the game and proves he's more than capable of being a starting caliber runningback.
He's a smooth runner and little more elusive than people give him credit for. He's a solid fit for Shanahan's scheme. He won't break a lot of big runs, but he'll be a chain mover who will surprise people with a couple long touchdowns and with his reliable hands out of the back field.
65 attempts, 476 yards rushing, 4 rushing touchdowns, 39 receptions, 355 yards, 2 receiving touchdowns.
Bold Prediction: The Redskins have to choose between cutting Brandon Banks and Aldrick Robinson. They cut Banks.
Robinson might be the most raw of the rookies, but he'll make the team on potential, because the Redskins don't want to take the chance on losing him. Aldrick Robinson will function as the team's fourth or even fifth wide receiver, but he'll definitely get his looks on offense, and he'll have several big plays. He has a lot of potential, and Mike Shanahan will see it and find a way to get him and his blazing speed on the field.
19 receptions, 212 yards, one receiving touchdowns, four rushing attempts, 55 yards rushing.
Thompson makes it to the practice squad. He gets called up to the main roster due to an injury to the starter and shows some promise but doesn't crack the roster quite yet.
Gomes makes the team as depth at safety. He has his opportunities on defense when one of the safeties gets injured but can't quite usurp anyone for the starting job. Still, when one of the safeties blows a coverage, people will demand he gets put on the field, so...he's got that going for him.
A developmental practice squad player, much like Selvish Capers was. May not have his chance unless injuries really devastate the offensive line. Will look surprisingly good in preseason but won't crack the top 53.
Another developmental practice squander. Potentially added as depth.
Mike Shanahan always finds one diamond in the rough.
I think Neild is it. Even knowing he was a seventh-round pick, the guy goes to work every day, and he'll be challenging for a starting role by time training camp and preseason starts. He makes the Opening Day roster, and even though it seems likely they'll bring in a veteran nose tackle, Neild will get his shots, and he'll excel.
He's not a disruptive guy, but when he gets in, he'll make an impact. He's a natural born leader, and it'll be hard for Jim Haslett to keep him off the field.
19 tackles, two sacks.
Some people said that the Redskins stretched when they picked up Clemson defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins with their 41st pick in the second round, but Jenkins filled a big need on the defensive line.
When drafted, Jenkins was under the impression he'd play nose. Shanahan clarified later, saying he was more likely to play 3-4 defensive end. If I had to guess, the Redskins drafted Jenkins because he was versatile; he can play at defensive end, or he can bulk up a little and play at nose, and either way, he'll wind up filling a big time hole.
Jenkins has invited the challenge of being a space eater in the defense. He's not going to be the most disruptive guy, but with veteran Vonnie Holliday and the somewhat surprising Adam Carriker doing most of the pass rushing, Jenkins doesn't have to be. He's a run-stuffer and a solid tackler, and though he'll go unheralded, he'll prove himself to be a solid draft pick that'll help anchor the Redskins d-line for years to come.
33 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles.
Don't get me wrong; Kerrigan will have to adjust to playing linebacker. Just like every other defensive end who's converting to an outside linebacker will have to adjust to playing linebacker, including Aldon Smith, who was drafted ahead of him.
Luckily, he'll do a lot more stuffing the run and rushing the passer than he will be dropping back in coverage.
He has a motor that doesn't quit; he'll be chasing down running backs sideline to sideline and getting after the quarterback. His motor and his hustle will make up for some of his deficiencies in the pass game, and by season's end, he'll look like one the bright spots on the team.
65 combined tackles, 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, one interception