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In need of red zone help, Redskins could look for a big wide receiver in the draft

Mar 1, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT


Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan likes big football players. His logic is that over the course of 150 or so plays during a game the advantages that a bigger player has over a smaller player will win out.

That sounds good in theory but is there any proof? Or is that just an old adage that no longer applies, if it ever did?

Football does not lend itself to statistical analytics as well as some other sports but we can look at slices of the game. And if you look at the passing plays to wide receivers that occur when an offense has the ball inside the other team’s 20-yard line, the red zone, it appears that bigger receivers do have an advantage.

Consider this from Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders. It doesn’t include last year but it covers 16 seasons, a pretty solid sample size.

All but two of the top 10 in terms of touchdowns per red zone target are at least 6-3. The tallest receivers the Redskins have under contract for 2015 are Pierre Garçon and Ryan Grant, both 6-0. Those two, DeSean Jackson (5-10) and Andre Roberts (5-11) are almost certain to be the top four receivers on the team in 2015.

Looking at that group of wide receivers, Kacsmar’s chart, and at the Redskins’ ranking in red zone touchdown (26th) and it’s easy to see some cause and effect there. It’s also not hard to figure out that McCloughan will try to get the Redskins bigger at wide receiver.

Will he start in this year’s draft? He could have a number of tall receiver options throughout the draft. There were 13 receivers at the NFL Combine who measure 6-2 or taller. Some of them like Kevin White of West Virginia (6-3) and Davante Parker of Louisville (6-3) are likely to be gone in the first half of the first round. Tony Lippett of Michigan State (6-2) could still be around on the third day of the draft. A team likely could take a flyer on the tallest receiver at the combine, 6-6 Darren Waller of Georgia Tech, in the seventh round.

Height alone, however, isn’t enough to impress McCloughan. “I think it is a big man’s game, but I think it’s a football player’s game,” he said in his introductory news conference. “It’s not about the height, weight and speed. It’s about consistency and being a football player every day.”

The Redskins won’t draft a wide receiver, or any player, just because he’s tall. And maybe McCloughan won’t bypass a player like the shortest player on the top red zone receivers list, former Wayne Chrebet. But it’s likely that McCloughan will hold out for someone at least six feet tall and who plays like he’s much taller.

In any case, the Redskins need to improve their red zone efficiency if they are going to improve their winning percentage. The evidence that a big target can help them do that is pretty strong.

  1. troylok - Mar 1, 2015 at 11:10 AM

    What about the size of the tight ends? Our tight ends are small by NFL standards and those guys make great targets in the end zone. It doesn’t hurt that a bigger tight end might be pretty good in run blocking there at the goal line. I think it is much more likely that the Redskins will get a taller tight end in the draft of in free agency. Paul isn’t going to be with the team in 2015 and they will need a replacement, so I suspect that replacement will be a bigger guy.

  2. Shawn - Mar 1, 2015 at 11:16 AM

    I’ve been saying this forever it seems and the Redskins will hopefully see this. RG3 needs bigger targets because it gives him more options in creating plays. He’s not proven himself accurate enough to thread needles. Every intending team including the World Champions have had at least 1 or 2 receivers 6’3 or taller going back at least 10 Super Bowls. Just the threat itself creates mismatches. Size matters

  3. mr.moneylover - Mar 1, 2015 at 12:09 PM

    [edited by RT]

    All caps posts will be deleted. Thank you.

  4. Phillip Robinson - Mar 1, 2015 at 12:16 PM

    Concentrate on o line D line and free safety.

  5. shermanp79 - Mar 1, 2015 at 12:20 PM

    I have believed since last Draft they should have taken a big WR. They lack the jump ball or fade option in the RZ for years now. I think it’s part of their struggles. I think not having a real threat of Morris catching the ball hurts too. I know he can but he isn’t smooth doing it. If I recall, he bobbled a ball and got little from one I remember. We will have Morris next year so a WR at least expands the playbook. I knew when Gruden was hired he would want to find an AJ Green type WR for this offense. He wishes Jackson was 5-6 inches taller and much wider with strong hands. I assume because he is the fastest, is the reason he plays it instead of Garcon. I wouldn’t rule out a WR at #5 or whatever pick, if they traded out. I have liked White and Parker before it was popular for the Skins over Cooper. I think the Green-Beckam guy is a freak but he will be gone before the 2nd round. The top 4 could be gone by pick 19, if JAC and OAK both take WRs. The Jets need a WR as does Cle very badly. They should take 2 with their 1st round picks except they may not have a QB. I know some team(s) will fall in love with DGB. The Skins will have to figure out the drop from the top4-5 guys, to a guy taken in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th rounds. I believe they take a guy at some point. It’s possible Garcon is gone this year but if not, he will after next year. What role does he play in Gruden’s offense? What he did last year isn’t worth 9m a year. So they get a young guy in this year, get him started in the RZ then grow from there. It seems Grant is the possession guy. It’s possible he ultimately is the 3rd guy. If they took a WR early and ended up with say, White, I would trade Jackson. They could get a 1st round pick. They could then fill another need. A R like that you will want to get going day one. All we do is look at the Giants to see what a R did last year. Right now we need picks, look at every possibility to get more of them. You would think teams would trade for Garcon but teams know we could cut him. I wouldn’t rule out getting something for him. The difference with Jackson are all those big plays he has made. I think the bigger question is whether they draft a #1 WR or a role WR who needs to develop. If both guys will be gone in 2 years, do you do it now and let the QB grow with them. It’s clear both guys are frustrated with RG3, more Garcon who has dealt with it longer. They also open up the Cap. I really am OK either way they do it.

  6. polofourme - Mar 1, 2015 at 12:21 PM

    The very last thing this team needs is another of the few areas on the team that doesn’t need any tinkering. The reason why we are so miserable in the red zone is, because those stretch running plays don’t work inside the 20…and when you cant run to score, you basically telegraph to the D that we are going to pass. We need to focus on getting jumbo along the OL and find a RB that can actually pound the ball inside. But the real problem is the OL…it simply gets beat along the LOS in goal line stands. Time to get back to being 4 yard and a cloud of dust. And stop running those stretch plays inside the 20 that take to long to execute.

  7. Tom McCarron - Mar 1, 2015 at 12:36 PM

    Let’s focus on people who can block and tackle and put pressure on the QB first.

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 1, 2015 at 1:00 PM

      Again, it is a big organization. They can multitask.

  8. sidepull - Mar 1, 2015 at 12:50 PM

    We still have Hank. Use him or move on. Focus on the lines and adding a safety. We can manage with the wr corps we now have. Agreed a blocking big TE would be nice.

    • captblood3000 - Mar 1, 2015 at 3:36 PM

      We don’t have Hankerson. He’s a free agent. We’d have to resign him.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 1, 2015 at 9:19 PM

      Hankerson: Yet another Redskins draft bust.

  9. lorcanbonda - Mar 1, 2015 at 1:11 PM

    I agree — Gruden brought in some four receivers during training camp last year to rectify this problem (including a 6’7″ Tight End), but none were good enough to stay. That is how difficult it is to find good, tall receivers.

    The problem is that there aren’t any great ones in this draft. Dorial Green0Becker is 6’5″, but he’s not as strong as he needs to be and he has personal issues. Funchess is 6’4″, but he is too slow for a wide receiver. Then you have Devante Parker who is only 6’3″. For me the best option is Jesse James, the tight end from Penn State — a 6’7″ beast. He has no illusions of being a wide receiver.

  10. timwillhidetimwillhide - Mar 1, 2015 at 1:18 PM

    I wouldn’t mind if we got White or DGB. Garcon may or may not be with us this year or next, Jackson will be here next year and hopefully longer but he would be better off with a big target across from him, and I’m not too confident in the guys we have behind Garcon and Jackson.

  11. kenlinkins - Mar 1, 2015 at 2:03 PM

    IMO the Redskins QB’s would also have some cause and effect on being 26th! It doesn’t matter what you do in the red zone if you are down by 21 points when you get there the first time in a game. I hope the Redskins can find some help for the pass rush and DB’s before trying to fix Red Zones concerns. That’s not to say they shouldn’t understand the problem, but be sure to place it correctly on the “To Do” list.

  12. shanevalliere19 - Mar 1, 2015 at 2:08 PM

    Rich, I enjoy your columns and the comments even more as I get a chuckle out of some people. I believe that the receivers, at least for this year are fine. I’m always for drafting for depth and the future but with more glaring needs and some good receivers coming out next year my favorite team will have plenty of choices. I think the Redskins really need a well rounded TE to help our O-line. I can’t help but remember Clint Didier and Don Warren teaming up and making the RZ hell for opponents. Warren was more of a blocker but could surprise with occasional touchdowns. Didier was BOTH a blocker and receiver and also created match-up problems for the defense in the RZ. The key is to find that guy because Jordan Reed really wants to be a WR, Niles Paul isn’t consistent enough in blocking schemes and Logan Paulsen doesn’t have the route running or burst but can block his butt off. Your thoughts?

    • bangkokben - Mar 1, 2015 at 5:38 PM

      Warren, Didier,and even Walker all benefited from our team being a power running team. So play action then opened it up for them in the red zone. Maybe our guys can benefit as well from a change in philosophy as long as they are part of the power running assignments/execution.

  13. nomaan78 - Mar 1, 2015 at 2:28 PM

    My offseason
    Ricky Jean Francoi IND
    Mike Iupati OG SF
    TE Jermaine Gresham CIN
    Brian Orakpo WSH resigned


    1st Danny Shelton DT Washington
    2nd Ameer Abdullah RB Nebraska
    3rd Cedric Ogbuehi OT Texas A&M
    4th Gerod Holliman FS Louisville
    5th Kurtis Drummond FS Michigan State
    6th Ladarius Gunter CB Miami
    7th BPA

    • bangkokben - Mar 1, 2015 at 5:40 PM

      Iupati was NOT a McCloughan pick. Picked after he left.

      So with that and the fact that he’ll command $$ – it won’t happen.

  14. brucealmty - Mar 1, 2015 at 2:35 PM

    This article is nothing but an unneeded distraction taking the fans focus away from the core problems of the o-line, d-line, d-backs and highlighting luxury players that we’ll need further downstream. Fix the problems then dream about the what-ifs.

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 1, 2015 at 5:29 PM

      So what difference does it make that the fans are “distracted”? The team will focus on its business. It matters not what I write here or what fans are chattering about.

      The headline was pretty clear about the subject of the post. If you thought it was a distraction then you could have skipped it.

      > > >

    • bangkokben - Mar 1, 2015 at 5:48 PM

      If you don’t think the ‘skins aren’t thinking about a tall receiver, take your head out of the sand, or snow, and wake up. The problem with the ‘skins was they did not score enough points to win games. End of sentence. Full stop. Now how you fix THAT problem has multiple solutions and multiple paths. How they do that is up to them and it may or may not include a tall receiver. Even if it does, he might come in the form of an undrafted free agent, the fifth round, or the fifth pick. We don’t know! But for you to list their need as a hostage-taker’s list of demands is both ludicrous as well as naive.

  15. me4gm - Mar 1, 2015 at 4:35 PM

    hey Rich…jets want Mariota….maybe they offer us something to keep us from trading with someone else? That way we would get the player we want with the jets pick anyway and maybe a 2nd round pick to boot

  16. kenlinkins - Mar 1, 2015 at 4:42 PM

    My draft: If the Redskins can move / trade back:
    1. OT Scherff (starts at RT day one)
    1. C Erving (He will take a starters job by Nov 2015)
    2. S Rowe (CB turns into FS, high risk, high reward pick)
    3. DT Davis (a true NT)
    4. TE James (the other TE in 2 TE sets)
    5. CB Grant (Slot CB and will play a lot in 2015)
    6. ILB Hull (back up ILB- Special teams guy)
    7. OLB Mauldin (could develop into more than just a back up ST guy in 2016)
    That would the Redskins 3 starters (Scherff RT, Erving C / G, FS Rowe) 3 sub-package players (DT Davis, TE James, CB Grant) and 2 back-up / Special Teams guys ( Hull and Mauldin). All eight picks would play in year one and be a great start to a re-build. While I wanted to go defense first, I just didn’t see the guys I wanted early but feel I got value at each pick.

    • bangkokben - Mar 1, 2015 at 5:54 PM


      I’ll give you a dollar for each player you’ve listed that we actually draft.
      I’ll give you a quarter for each position that we draft in the round you selected.

      I’d give you more but I’m cheap.


    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 1, 2015 at 9:27 PM

      Cameron Erving wouldn’t be a terrible 2nd round pick.

      I don’t like Scherff, he’s not worth a top five pick.

  17. clifton - Mar 1, 2015 at 5:48 PM

    I may live in Florida and were only able to catch a few games last year, but I think we have more pressing needs. Let’s start with a QB that can complete 50% of their passes… But what we really need is for Snyder to sell the franchise and dump the new DC and Bruce Allen. I miss Mr. Cook!

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 2, 2015 at 6:45 AM

      Thanks for your comment but perhaps you should look at the stats. Griffin completed 68% of his passes, McCloy 71%. Even Cousins completed 61%. Not that they don’t need better QB play but completion percentage is not an issue.

  18. donald - Mar 1, 2015 at 10:59 PM

    Let’s get Kevin Williams out of west Virginia

  19. Ken - Mar 2, 2015 at 1:20 AM

    Is Hankerson gone or assumed to be gone. I remember big TE Phil Sellars used to be a great red zone target and would line up all over the place. Personally I think bigger interior O linemen and increased doses of A Morris in G to G situations would improve our Red Zone efficiency a lot.

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 2, 2015 at 6:09 AM

      In this post I mention guys who play taller than they are. Hankerson plays shorter than he is. I keep trying to picture a time when he went up an outfought a smaller DB for a jump ball. Can’t do it.

      I won’t rule out McCloughan giving him one more shot but I think chances are he’s gone.

      > > >

  20. william - Mar 2, 2015 at 6:09 AM

    See now there thinking I’ve been saying this for 3 yrs now lol Scott isn’t the only one who likes bigger receivers so does Gruden.

  21. wildbill1952 - Mar 2, 2015 at 10:05 AM

    When a running play in the red zone is a legitimate option, play action can freeze a lb or safety and help open receivers. When your Oline is poor, and the opponents know it, no expects a run. And if you do run they only need the defensive front 4 to stop it, leaving 7 to defense the pass in a much more crowded area. It still comes down to the OL. Poor blocking = poor red zone play, no matter who your receivers are.

    • Shawn - Mar 2, 2015 at 12:31 PM

      Scratch everything I said and get Nadaman SUH! Give up everything and take him now!!!!

      • ET - Mar 2, 2015 at 4:30 PM

        Boo! While Suh is a legitimate talent, we can’t afford to go back to those kind of high-priced FA signings.

        • Shawn - Mar 2, 2015 at 5:30 PM

          Too late! We need this guy! He would command double teams! Report: Redskins Interested in Suh If He Hits Market (via #httr yes! Archives

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