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Gruden expects impact from the Redskins’ two rookie wide receivers

May 12, 2015, 2:19 PM EDT

Jamison-Crowder-stiff-arm

Jay Gruden seems to be happy with all 10 of the Redskins’ draft picks but he seems to like two in particular. It looks like the team already has specific roles carved out for the two receivers the team took.

Appearing on ESPN 980 on Monday, Gruden was asked by host Kevin Sheehan what draft picks other than top selections Brandon Scherff and Preston Smith would have the earliest impact on the team. After first saying that he was excited about all of them and that it was hard to name one player, Gruden named three—receivers Jamison Crowder (4th round) and Evan Spencer (6th) and cornerback Tevin Mitchel (6th).

He didn’t go into any detail about what kind of impact Mitchel would play. “He’s an exciting player, he can play nickel, he can play corner, he’s an exciting guy,” said Gruden. Apparently we’ll have to wait to see what all the excitement is about.

Gruden apparently has plans for Crowder to play a role in bolstering the return game, a weak spot on the team for the last several years.

“Crowder has a skill set where he can be a slot receiver and a return guy from Day One, which is exciting,” he said. “So he has a chance to get the ball in his hands and make an immediate impact, quickly, if he can handle it.”

Andre Roberts was the team’s returner last year and his performance there was pedestrian at best. His average of 7.4 yards per punt return was 24 among qualifiers in the NFL and his kickoff return average of 23.7 yards was 21st.

It was interesting to note that Gruden said Crowder can make an impact “if he can handle it” and not something like “if he can beat out Roberts”. It would be a major upset if Crowder is not back there to field the first punt in Week 1.

Gruden envisions a role for Spencer in two phases of the game.

“Evan Spencer, he’s a special teams monster,” he said. “He can block . . . You want to run a power running game you’ve got to have a receiver who can block and do all that . . . But also special teams. You’ve got to have a guy who can cover punts, cover kickoffs we didn’t really have that at our receiver position. Adding him, he’s going to have an immediate impact.”

The Redskins’ backup receivers have not contributed much on special teams. Leonard Hankerson never developed much enthusiasm for kick coverage or blocking and Ryan Grant played a very limited special teams role last year despite being active for 16 games and played only 187 snaps on offense.

We knew that a contribution on special teams would be expected from Spencer but the role as a power running game blocker is interesting. That would mean that he will get snaps on first and second down and those reps will have to come from Roberts, Pierre Garçon, or DeSean Jackson. And they would have to throw the ball to him on occasion so that his presence on the field doesn’t automatically tip off a run. And like the snaps, those targets in the pass game will come at the expense of another receiver.

If Spencer and/or Mitchel can contribut at all it would represent a step in the right direction for the Redskins when it comes to getting something out of the last rounds of the draft. Last year they had one sixth-round pick, RB Lache Seastrunk, and two seventh rounders, K Zach Hocker and TE Ted Bolser. None of them made the 53-man roster and none are currently with the organization.

  1. troylok - May 12, 2015 at 3:29 PM

    Either they are going to keep ten guys on the roster at wide receiver or there is going to be some heartache in the days leading up to the first big cut. It sounds like Roberts is the most threatened, but maybe Garcon’s job is in jeopardy as well.

    • mr.moneylover - May 12, 2015 at 4:40 PM

      P.garcon not going nowhere…I can definitely see the team moving on from andre roberts simply cause before the team sign desean jackson he said he wasnt happy about the signing of desean jackson and then after that he goes out there and lay a egg by droping wide open easy passes….remember this stat andre roberts only caught 31/71 passes he wasnt the third wide receiver threat that this offense need witch made desean jackson and p.garcon job alot more difficult…

  2. mr.moneylover - May 12, 2015 at 4:30 PM

    I keep tryna tell ppl CB tevin mitchel is a sleeper pick…hes good he can cover and hes mentally tough like breeland you might catch him sleeping one play but next play he will come back you the only thing thats gonna stop tevin Mitchel from seeing the field this year if he cant pick up the defense fast enough….Jamison crowder is another sleeper you can compare his game to wes welker…I really wanna see martrell spaights start next to keenan Robinson but it might take him some time to learn joe barry defense….this draft class has been known to be the best by a redskins GM in 20 years and thats why scot m and jay gruden been all smiles and giggles cause they cant wait for the world to see

  3. ET - May 12, 2015 at 5:06 PM

    For good or bad, the team had a real focus on how each draft pick might fit in both the short- and long-term. Jay and Scot can articulate why each player was drafted and where/when/how each player might fit. An overarching vision was clearly in place for this draft in a way it wasn’t last year. It’s been a pleasant surprise, even as we wait to see how well all these players transition to the NFL.

    (As an aside, I’m happy Gruden is excited about a defensive player.)

  4. wvredskins - May 12, 2015 at 7:03 PM

    I am trying not to get to excited to only be let down again. I want to believe that every pick they picked this year in the draft and free agency is going to turn us into a contender. Year in and year out this time of year I tend to be optimistic. BUT boy does this kinda have a different feel to it. It actually truly feels FOR ONCE we are on the right path. Cause realistically we have been rebuilding for the past 20 years and we might actually for once be rebuilding the right way. Then again it is the time of year to feel this way for every team in the NFL to feel this way.
    Its a wait and see kinda thing and I can not wait! Come on August/ September!!

  5. nomaan78 - May 12, 2015 at 8:27 PM

    I was bummed when we let Hank leave to ATL. We needed a big 6’2 + WR for RG3 to go to as a possesion WR. And Spencer will fit that bill nicely. Hank didn’t have the same mentality as Spencer has. Spencer seems like I will do anything the team needs. I cant wait for Desean and Garcon with Crowder in the slot. That will be exciting.

    • brucefan1 - May 12, 2015 at 10:55 PM

      It seems that ANYBODY who doesn’t have the mentality the McC expects from his players may soon be handing in their B&G’s, nomaan.

      That’s especially evident in a guy’s willingness and ability to produce on special teams. If Scot’s even a little right about a some of the players he’s signed, special teams SHOULD improve dramatically.

      (It actually gets me thinking back in amazement about how little Shanny & Co seemed to value a player’s ability as a special teamer when selecting them! Imho, it’s one of the main reasons for his team’s failure in 2013.)

  6. obxskins - May 13, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    Greetings Rich! Have you had any word on Ryan Grant? Seems he was making lots of noise but have not heard much on him about being in the mix. Is he still on the radar for us? I really like Grant,any thoughts Rich. Thanks! #HTTR!!

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