Hankerson’s breakout profile is nearly perfect: a big-bodied wide receiver entering his third NFL season; a dynamic, big-armed quarterback delivering him the ball; and an opportunity to rise on the depth chart. Hankerson was a third round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, and was widely considered to have talent supporting an earlier selection. He displayed NFL-level talent in his rookie season before tearing a labrum in his hip — an injury that ultimately required surgery. Last season, Hankerson hauled in a couple deep balls, but his inconsistent play and playing time produced only 38 catches.
Year three is when many wide receivers finally “get it,” and with Robert Griffin III likely being the guy serving up the football, Hankerson’s out of excuses. Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan are penciled in as the starters, but Garcon is coming off shoulder surgery and is likely to be limited by a lingering toe injury, and Morgan is valued as much in the running game as the passing game — a fact that should speak to his ceiling as a wideout. The ‘Skins need Hankerson to force his way onto the field. One of his confounding weaknesses is he seems to play smaller than he actually is. He found the turf way too easily after catches for a guy that is 6-2, 210 pounds. Maybe that was a confidence issue coming off surgery last year? Whatever, he needs to watch film of Garcon and run angry. Hankerson could literally force his way into the starting lineup or be cut during the preseason. Leonard … you’re on notice.