Post-draft roster outlook: No position has improved more for Washington than WR

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No position has improved for WFT this offseason more than WR originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

If you want to truly understand just how much Terry McLaurin carried Washington's wide receiving corps last season, consider this stat below:

In 2020, McLaurin finished with 87 receptions, 1,118 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns.  Washington had six other wide receivers catch at least one pass last year. Those six players COMBINED for 107 catches, 1,142 yards, and four scores.

So, yeah, Ron Rivera and his staff knew they needed to prioritize upgrading the position this offseason.

And, that's exactly what they did.

The first major addition was Curtis Samuel, who signed a three-year deal with Washington early on in free agency. Samuel, a dynamic player who can line up all over the field, possesses the versatility both Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner love. 

"It seemed like the perfect situation," Samuel said in March shortly after signing with the club. "My goal is to bring the extra spark to this offense. I like to be dynamic. I like to make plays with the ball in my hands. Just being alongside Terry and a lot of those other guys, I feel like this is the perfect situation for me."

In his four years in the NFL, Samuel has gotten better -- and been more productive -- each season. Last year, the 24-year-old finished with 118 touches and over 1,000 scrimmage yards to go with five scores. 

In Washington, he'll have the chance to have the biggest role of his career so far as a true No. 2 wideout.

Just over a week after signing Samuel, Washington added another pass-catcher in free agency in Adam HumphriesWhile Humphries has dealt with injuries over the past two seasons, he's just a couple of years removed from being one of the better slot receivers in football. 

The addition of Humphries also makes plenty of sense for Washington given the wideout's history with Ryan Fitzpatrick. The two were teammates for two seasons in Tampa Bay and some of Humphries' best games as a professional came with the new Washington quarterback under center.

"I think it was a big factor," Humphries said in March on whether linking up with Fitzpatrick again played a role in his decision to sign with Washington.

"Like I said before, my previous two years spent with Fitzpatrick were some of the most fun I’ve had playing football in my career," Humphries continued. "The familiarity there between Ryan and myself definitely played a factor in my decision. Again, like I said, stepping into a good situation with this team. They’ve got a lot of young pieces and a lot of guys that are really talented. I’m just excited to be another part of that piece."

If Humphries can return to his 2018 form, Washington will have added another dynamic piece to its improved offense. After receiving little production out of the slot last season, the Burgundy and Gold's offense would greatly benefit from any impact from Humphries.

Between Samuel and Humphries, Washington had already added two wideouts expected to play an integral role this fall during the offseason. While adding one more pass-catcher during the draft would have been a bonus, it wasn't exactly one of the team's most pressing needs entering the annual April event.

However, Washington did ultimately select a receiver in the third round in North Carolina's Dyami Brown. And, many analysts and draft experts believe Rivera and his staff found an absolute steal in the former Tar Heel.

The 82nd overall selection in the draft, Brown has actually drawn comparisons to McLaurin, who Washington drafted in the third round two years ago. Rivera sees the comparison, too. Both players had similar stats their final year in college and possess the game-breaking speed to make plays any time they touch the ball.

In Brown, Washington adds a receiver who has been incredibly productive the past two seasons. The former Tar Heel left Chapel Hill as the only receiver in program history to have consecutive seasons of 50-plus receptions and over 1,000 yards. 

Brown will likely have the chance to contribute early for Washington by making plays down the field. In 2020, his mark of 20.0 yards per reception was the highest of any receiver in college football who had 35 or more catches.

“Those are the guys that are going to make plays when you need them the most," Rivera said. "Those are the guys that you get excited about.” 

In college, he excelled at hauling in the contested catch, something Rivera specifically pointed out post-draft. But, while Brown thrived making plays downfield, he feels there's more to his game that he's ready to show.

“For me, I’ve had limited routes, so I haven't run many digs, many slants, many curls, haven't been able to move around in the slot, run the crossing routes," Brown said April 30. "For me, I've been working on them for the longest. I understand you have to be more than one dimensional to be successful and I’ve been working on that and being able to move around makes me a complete receiver."

Between Samuel, Humphries and Brown, Washington has three new weapons for Fitzpatrick, or whoever is under center, to utilize. Factor in McLaurin, and this group is now one of the better position units on the team -- something no one would have imagined just one year ago.