This week, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will examine some of the more critical position battles you'll see on the Redskins over the next few months.
Next up? That second outside receiver spot across from Terry McLaurin.
*Before we dig into the position battle at wide receiver, let's establish what we know. McLaurin will be the lead dog and Steven Sims will lead the work at the slot. Antonio Gibson could get some slot receiver work too, which will be an interesting wrinkle, but it's important to identify the actual position battle in play. Those guys aren't exactly involved in this particular discussion.
*McLaurin's going to play the X receiver position, even if he's learning all the different positions, as he explained last week: " I'm excited to play wherever they put me, to be honest. X is kind of like your boundary receiver, your one-on-one guy. Your Z is kind of like your flanker who moves with the formation and your S is like your typical slot, he can move anywhere as well. In this offense, which is nice, I can be the X, but really I'm the Z in a certain formation, so that versatility is really important for what I think Coach Turner and our offense is trying to get done this year."
*Now, let's get down to business. The position battle here shapes up to be between second-year wideout Harmon and rookie wide receiver Gandy-Golden. I think Harmon wins the battle, and here's why.
Kelvin Harmon logged 30 catches as a rookie last year. 20 of them came once Dwayne Haskins was starting QB. Something to consider for 2020. https://t.co/TvGr2dCMHr
— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) May 21, 2020
*Gandy-Golden has a lot of potential and physical tools, but at least early on, the jump from Liberty University to the NFL will be significant, especially without a normal offseason.
*McLaurin is a playmaker. Sims is too. The Redskins hope Gibson will be. Harmon can make tough, contested catches even if he doesn't have deep speed. There's a role for that with a young QB that can trust somebody on 3rd down. Dwayne Haskins has known Harmon for more than a decade from growing up in New Jersey; with no offseason and a new offense, that familiarity could help.
*Like JP, I think Harmon wins this battle for 2020. His comfort level with Haskins, his bigger body and his ability to make a difference as a blocker all make him an appealing cog in this offense. While McLaurin has his straight-line speed and Sims has his shiftiness, Harmon brings his toughness. That element will matter.
*Going off of that last point, I'll never forget what Harmon told me at his first rookie minicamp last May: "I'm always trying to bully the guy in front of me, whether I have to block him or win the route." Ron Rivera is going to love that attitude more than I love making pico de gallo (it's a hobby I've picked up in quarantine and I really love it, just so you know).
*Now, while I certainly see Harmon edging out Gandy-Golden this year, I still like AGG's ceiling more in the long run. He and Harmon have very comparable college stats, yes, and their speed is similar as well, but I like Gandy-Golden's frame and penchant for highlight reel catches to eventually make him a more productive option. I still expect Harmon to carve out a very nice NFL career, but give me Gandy-Golden to finish with more yards and catches (let's talk in like 10 years to see if I was right or not).
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MORE REDSKINS NEWS:
McLaurin's take: Sees greatness in Sims, Harmon
Simms on QBs: Why's he down on Haskins?
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