Leonard Hankerson has a big opportunity this off-season to become a starter

Now that it appears that Brandon Banks has played his last game for the Redskins, some fans need a new player to complain about. Leonard Hankerson has taken Banks’ place as the player that Redskins fans love to hate.

In Banks’ case I think the criticism was justified; with Hankerson, I don’t quite understand it.

The primary complaint that I get is that he drops the ball too much. He has had some memorable drops and at other times he looked like he was battling to hang on to fairly routine passes. But according to Pro Football Focus, Hankerson held on to the ball better than any other Redskins wideout.

Per PFF, Hankerson was targeted 55 times and he had 38 receptions and three drops. That gives him a drop rate of 7.32 percent. Of the 82 NFL wide receivers who played at least 25 percent of their teams’ snaps that is the 28th-best drop rate.

That’s not great but it was the best on the team. Pierre Garçon caught 44 passes and dropped five, a drop rate of 10.2 percent (51st in the NFL). Josh Morgan’s caught 48 and dropped seven for a rate of 12.73 percent (67th). Santana Moss, with six drops and 41 receptions had a rate of 12.77 (68th).

Certainly, Hankerson still needs to improve in other areas. He has had issues getting separation from defensive backs so it looks like his route running could use some improvement.

This will be a critical offseason for Hankerson. The NFL lockout wiped out OTA’s his rookie year and rehab from his hip injury kept him sidelined during the offseason program a year ago. We will see if a full cycle of team workouts will help Hankerson take the next step.

Widen the field?
This appears to be just in the speculation phase right now but the NFL could take a look into widening the field of play as a safety measure.

The thinking is that with more wide open spaces there will be fewer of the big, debilitating hits that the NFL fears is causing long-term injuries, particularly to the player’s head. The field in the Canadian Football League is 195 feet wide compared to 160 feet in the NFL.

"It's a radical idea, but I think it's worth thinking about," former Colts GM Bill Polian said. "You would have more space and perhaps a safer game. I say that based on my CFL experience. There are less collisions of that type in the Canadian game."

The offenses in the CFL are more wide-open thanks to the wider field. Defensive backs have 22 percent more field area from goal line to goal line to try to cover receivers. Backs running around the end of the line have more room to get to the edge.

There are considerations beyond competition. In most stadiums such a change would necessitate the removal of some prime seats along the sideline.

It would be surprising to see the NFL make such a change. But the thought of Robert Griffin III sprinting out with some extra field to work with might make a change that Redskins fans could believe in.

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