Over the next few days I'll take a look at each position on the Washington Redskins roster, analyzing how they're better, or worse, compared to last season.
Newcomers: Jackson, Roberts, Grant
Where they’re better: Speed and play-making ability. That’s mostly from Jackson, who was second in the NFL with 25 catches for 20 yards or more last season (behind Cleveland’s Josh Gordon), according to ESPN Stats & Information. Teams will be wary of his deep speed, which should in theory open up opportunities for others. We saw it in the preseason when Jackson would run a deep post, clearing out a side for another receiver to run to off a shallow crossing route. Roberts is solid in the slot; despite his speed he’s never been a big-play guy with a career average of 11.7 yards per catch (yes, in a different offense). Roberts had only three catches for 20 yards or more last season, but he has the ability -- and speed -- for more. Garcon is the same, but he and quarterback Robert Griffin III have not clicked a whole lot this summer. Grant had a terrific summer and is a savvy route runner. Moss and Robinson are the same.
Where they’re worse: They’re not. But with Leonard Hankerson still on the physically unable to perform list, the Redskins have short receivers. Garcon is their biggest guy at 6-foot, 216 pounds, but for the most part it’s a short group. Griffin tends to miss high, so having a big target or two among this group would help. Not that Hankerson was the answer, and not that size alone is the answer, but eventually it would be good to have a bigger receiver. That’s not just to help in the red zone but to withstand the punishment of 60-plus catches.
Overall: It’s an excellent group, especially the starters. With the first three -- Jackson, Roberts and Garcon -- the Redskins have the ability along with tight end Jordan Reed to create mismatches. What they have to hope is that someone from this group can win early, making it easier for Griffin. If not, then they’ll have to use more play-action than they would like. The big-play potential is obvious, and what helps Griffin is that Jackson is very good at adjusting routes when the quarterback scrambles. It sounds simplistic, but Jackson does that better than most. Roberts’ routes should enable quarterbacks to throw with trust to him. This is a good problem to have, but I do wonder how Griffin will handle two passionate receivers in Jackson and Garcon if they’re not getting the ball as often as they like.