If every year you have asked Santa Dimitroff for another pass catcher, but wake up on draft morning to find only defensive tackles in your stocking, 2015 may be your year.
The Falcons are looking at a very athletic wide receiver that has struggled to put together his talents in the NFL so far. Per Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports:
Source: WR Leonard Hankerson is visiting the #Falcons tonight. No deal imminent.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) March 10, 2015
Hankerson is an interesting player to battle with Devin Hester, and potentially a draft selection, for the recently vacated third wide receiver spot. If you are unfamiliar with Hankerson, allow me to paint you a beautiful picture with my words.
In mock drafts, Hankerson was a popular destination for the Atlanta Falcons in the 2011 draft. The team instead traded up for Julio Jones. His combination of speed and size had him considered by some as a potential first round selection. Instead, he was picked up early in the third round by the Washington Redskins. Coming out of the University of Miami, Hankerson raced to a 4.40 40 at the combine at an impressive 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds.
Hankerson has always had great measurables. However, he was expected to be a project that could turn into a great wide receiver. I cannot think of a more apt comparison than Roddy White. However, Hankerson never made that third year leap that started White's dominating career.
What happened? Hankerson was stuck as the 2nd fiddle behind Pierre Garcon with, at best, one year of a decent quarterback distributing the football. He had his best season during RG III's rookie season, catching 38 footballs on 57 targets for 543 yards. That is a respectable 14.3 yards per catch, better than any season Harry Douglas has ever had.
In 2013, he failed to finish the season thanks to a terrible ACL and MCL tear. He spent all of 2014 on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Now about 16 months separated from the injury, he hopefully is fully healed up and still has his impressive down-field speed.
Hankerson remains a pretty raw prospect. If healthy, wide receiver coach Terry Robiskie will have his hands full turning him into a legitimate threat. Hankerson can make a circus catch, then miss two easy catches in a row. He is still young, barely 26, and could hopefully do wonders with a consistent quarterback and experienced wide receiver coach.
I like the potential addition, and depending on his health, Hankerson may be best under a short contract. With a little work, he can play outside and push Roddy White to the slot where he can be more effective. Hopefully Hankerson can be a low-risk, high-reward signing.