On the hot seat: Chris Cooley

Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson looks at NFC East players who must improve in 2011.

Donovan McNabb is unlikely to return. Free-agent-to-be Santana Moss could be elsewhere as well. The Redskins need to lean on someone in the passing game next season, and Chris Cooley is the most likely candidate as it stands today.

But he didn’t play very well in 2010. He didn’t stretch the field. He dropped too many passes. And Cooley isn’t much of a help as a run- or pass-blocker.

Cooley wasn’t the fastest or most explosive receiving tight end to begin with. Then he broke his ankle during the 2009 season and may have lost a step from that injury; he looked noticeably slower this past year. He battled more injuries in 2010. Cooley can line up in many spots in the offensive formation, but defenses do not fear him. They realize that he isn’t a threat to stretch the field.

If the Redskins' skill-position players -- and their offensive line and quarterback for that matter -- were better, Cooley could be serviceable as a guy who will move the chains and still have the ability to beat most linebackers in one-on-one situations. But Cooley is too high on the receiving food chain for his current skill set. Fred Davis, who is a better athlete, could see his role expand. Both should see the field, but Washington might design more routes to get Davis the ball in a more vertical capacity.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.