Training Camp Preview - Wide Receivers
Is there a bigger question mark on the Washington Football Team’s roster heading into 2020 than the wide receiver position?
As we entered summer, there were three names we knew about and all happened to be rising second-year players in Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims and Kelvin Harmon. Unfortunately, Harmon would tear his ACL during workouts this summer and a thin position got a bit thinner.
As training camp began this week, head coach Ron Rivera spoke on a number of topics, including the wide receiver position and addressed whether or not he would be looking to add some veterans.
Let’s focus on Washington does have as training camp begins.
McLaurin is already a star. The third-round pick from a year ago became an instant starter for Washington in 2019. He was unquestionably the team’s top receiver and finished the year 58 receptions, 919 yards and seven touchdowns.
Not only is McLaurin a strong route runner and potent deep threat, but he also makes the tough catches, too.
McLaurin missed two games but still would’ve easily gone over the 1,000-yard mark if he had consistent quarterback play. Early in the year, Case Keenum missed McLaurin on some big plays. His former college teammate, Dwayne Haskins, missed him several times, too, as he was adjusting to life in the NFL.
For the first time in years, Washington has a homegrown star at wide receiver.
Does the Washington Football Team have two star receivers?
Sims was undrafted one year ago out of Kansas. He actually made the roster due to a late push in training camp.
Early in the season, the former coaching staff didn’t know what it had in Sims. Then, in a Week 5 loss to New England, Jay Gruden gave Sims the ball on a jet sweep and the rookie took it 65 yards for his first career touchdown.
Gruden was fired, but interim coach Bill Callahan made it a point to get Sims more involved in the offense. He would surpass Trey Quinn as the starting slot receiver and finished his rookie season with 34 receptions for 310 yards and four touchdowns.
Sims would also star on special teams, winning NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a kickoff for a touchdown in Week 12 against Detroit.
He would also have big performances in games against division rivals Dallas, New York and Philadelphia.
Sims could be on the verge of a breakout campaign in year two.
Harmon was supposed to start opposite of McLaurin on the outside. His loss will be felt, especially when Haskins needs three of four yards on third down. Harmon became a dependable target for the young passer last season.
So, who else does Washington have?
Not Cody Latimer. The disappointing former second-round pick has bounced around as a veteran and was expected to add depth this season. He is now on the Commissioner’s Exempt List after an offseason arrest.
Antonio Gandy-Golden is one player to watch. The fourth-round pick from Liberty was one of the most productive players in all of college football last season. He caught 231 passes for 3,722 yards and 32 touchdowns for his college career and can instantly help the Washington Football Team in the red zone.
This training camp is a big one for Gandy-Golden. This is where a lack of preseason games could hurt. Preseason games were a good indicator of where rookies were ahead of the season.
Quinn and Cam Sims are both back. Both have received opportunities and failed to deliver. The 6-foot-5 Sims has two catches for 27 yards in his two-year career.
Quinn showed promise as a rookie in 2018, but could not stay healthy. In 2019, he played in 12 games, making 26 catches for 198 yards and a score. He was clearly passed by Steven Sims on the depth chart.
Darvin Kidsy Jr. is another former undrafted player trying to make the final roster. In his third year out of Texas Southern, Kidsy has spent time on both the active roster and practice squad in each of the last two years. He has impressed when called upon in the preseason.
Jordan Veasy, a 6-foot-3, 221-pounder from California, has bounced around the practice squads of several teams in the last two years.
Jester Weah, another big target at 6-foot-3, signed with Washington’s practice squad last October. He was promoted to the active roster for the final game.
The rest of the wide receivers in training camp are a pair of undrafted free agents in Johnathan Johnson of Missouri and Isaiah Wright of Temple.
Johnson caught 153 career passes in the rugged SEC but faces an uphill climb to make the roster.
Wright is more intriguing. The 6-foot-2 Wright caught 134 career passes at Temple and also happens to be a talented returner. He returned two kickoffs and three punts for touchdowns during his college career. As he battles to make the roster, his ability on special teams could provide him with an upper hand.
Wright is much faster on film than he is in the 40-yard dash.
The wide receiver position is full of questions and the lack of preseason will not only hurt young players trying to make the roster, but also the coaches trying to decide which players to keep.
Expect Washington to sign a veteran either before — or after — Week 1 to fill out this group.
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Bryan Manning writes about the Washington Football Team for 'Washington Football' and contributes to "All Hokies" on SI.com. He has covered the NFL, MLB, NBA, college football and college basketball for almost 10 years for various outlets such as Bleacher Report, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today SMG, and others. For his day job, Bryan works in engineering for a major communications company.