Lost in the Shuffle: A Closer Look at Eagles Receiver Hank Baskett

Leo PizziniAnalyst IJune 14, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 09:  Hank Baskett #84 of the Philadelphia Eagles catches a touchdown pass over Aaron Ross #31 of the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field on November 9, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Prior to the draft, Hank Baskett appeared to have a very good opportunity to play a much bigger role in the 2009 Eagles passing attack.  How does he fit in with the Eagles offense now?

Eagles fans have mixed and completely divergent opinions on Baskett.  There is a large community of Eagles enthusiasts that believe Baskett could be an extremely productive receiver. 

Others believe he would have been lost to free agency and produced bigger numbers by now if he were the real deal.

Both point seem to have validity.

Who is Hank Baskett?  A History

Hank Baskett is a 6'4", 220-pound receiver who ran a 4.5 second 40 yard dash at his combine workout.  He definitely continues accelerating with long strides after 40 yards.

Baskett was also a high school basketball standout and seven foot collegiate high jumper at New Mexico.  Baskett leaped 39.5" in his pro day workout.

Baskett is an intelligent football player who graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA and maintained 3.36 college GPA while playing football and competing in track and field.

Hank Baskett had two very solid years at New Mexico where he ranked 13th in the nation as a senior and earned all-conference honors.  Baskett also measured up with some pretty impressive numbers during his combine and pro-day workouts.

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2004: 54 catches for 906 yards and 3 touchdowns.

2005: 57 catches for 1,071 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Pro-day results: 4.55 in the 40-yard dash...39.5-inch vertical jump...315-pound bench press...435-pound squat...309-pound power clean...328-pound incline press...32 7/8-inch arm length.

Combine results: 4.50-second 40-yard dash. ... 35-inch vertical jump. ... 9'11" broad jump. ... 4.22-second shuttle run. ... 6.80-second three-cone drill. ... Did not participate in 225-pound bench press.

Baskett's 6.8 second 3-cone would have tied him with Darrius Heyward-Bey at ninth among receivers, his 39.5" vertical would have put him at 5th among receivers again just over Heyward-Bey.

His workout measures up with the best prospects at wide receiver in the 2009 draft class.

Baskett went somewhat surprisingly undrafted, then signed with the Minnesota Vikings and was later traded for Philadelphia Eagles receiver, Billy McMullen.

He enters his fourth season with the Eagles in 2009 at 26 years old.  He is signed to a one-year contract.

Baskett has only started in 11 games in his three-year tenure with the Eagles and has been very productive with limited opportunities.

In Baskett's 2006 rookie season, he caught 22 passes for 464 yards and two touchdowns, boasting a 21.1-yard average per catch as he scored twice from beyond 85 yards in that season.

Baskett earned rookie of the week honors twice in 2006.

In Baskett's 2007 season, he caught a disappointing 16 catches for 142 yards and one touchdown.  He definitely should have had more opportunity on the field in 2007.

In Baskett's 2008 season, he caught 33 passes for 440 yards including a 90 yard touchdown which was one of his three on the season.

Baskett has made some clutch plays when given the opportunity.  Unfortunately for Baskett fans, it's a crowded receiving group that will not likely yield more targets for him in 2009.

What does he do well?

Baskett is a good special teams player, blocks well, moves well, has explosive running ability, good hands, he is a big red zone target and has good instincts to come back to and be aware of his quarterback's situation.

Baskett is what I would describe as a play-maker.  Good things happen when the ball moves in his direction and when the ball moves towards him, he moves to the ball. 

Exhibit A: 3 touchdown receptions of 85 yards or more in as many seasons. 

What does he do poorly?

Not much. 

He has been called too stiff, considered to have questionable hands and been called a bit slow at times.

I don't think the charges of suspect agility and hands stick. 

In 2008, Baskett caught 64.7 percent of the passes thrown at him with only 4 of his 51 targets being considered drops.

Compare Baskett with two of the best receivers in the League:

Larry Fitzgerald caught 62.3 percent of his 154 targets and was charged with two drops.

Andre Johnson caught 67.6 percent of his 170 targets and was charged with five drops.

These two players are possibly the most reliable weapons in the NFL and Baskett's hands measure just a class below.  Receivers like Terrell Owens, Brandon Marshall and Braylon Edwards are elite receivers that average more drops than Baskett.

So I'm not concerned about his hands.

As far as concerns about his agility go, I just don't see it.  He's agile enough.

What about his speed?  A 4.5 second 40 yard dash is respectable and his three 85 yards touchdowns are proof that he can run.  It may take him an extra step to get to top speed, but don't doubt that this guy can move.

How does he fit in with the Eagles in 2009?

Unless something unexpected happens, Baskett will more than likely be a reserve and situational role player.

He can do some things that the other very good 6'0" receivers can not.

Baskett can go up higher for the ball and cover fairly well on special teams. 

He would do very well if afforded an opportunity to start across from DeSean Jackson as he adds a new dimension to the Eagles passing offense.

Eagles fans should get excited when Baskett is on the field.  He has the potential to break a big play on any down.

DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jeremy Maclin, and Hank Baskett are four game-breaking threats who can all be on the field at once. 

It's not likely that we will see too much of this offense with the talent expected at tight end and fullback.  Also, Jason Avant figures to get his share of reps as a slot possession receiver.

Baskett has some distractions coming up with his celebrity relationship and his forthcoming fatherhood could either inspire or trouble the young receiver. 

He still has to earn a spot on this team. He is not a lock, but he does provide a lot of unique value to this offense and his only verifiable limitation to his production is his opportunity. 

We will not know how good Hank Baskett is until he gets 70 to 100 targets in a season and that may never happen for him as an Eagle.

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