ASHBURN — Dwayne Haskins knows Terry McLaurin well. Besides being college teammates at Ohio State, they’re now roommates after being drafted by the Washington Redskins. The quarterback and the wide receiver already have chemistry on the field and that was evident at the team’s rookie minicamp over the weekend.
McLaurin, though, isn’t the only receiver who seems to have a connection with Haskins.
Sixth-rounder Kelvin Harmon also stood out at minicamp, and Haskins coined a nickname for the 6-foot-2, 221-pound wideout: “Baby Julio.”
“He just looks like (Atlanta’s) Julio Jones from how he runs his routes and how hard he works,” Haskins said. “He’s a very physical guy and I’m just blessed to have him and Terry in the same class as me.”
Harmon has a lot to prove in order to live up to that billing — Jones is one of the league’s best receivers. Coach Jay Gruden, perhaps more fittingly, compared to him Atlanta’s Mohamed Sanu.
But regardless of comparisons, Harmon and McLaurin both provide skillsets that were missing for the Redskins in 2018. The Redskins want Harmon to use his size to make contested catches in the middle of the field. McLaurin, a third-round pick, runs with blazing speed that Washington hopes can burn opposing defenses.
Last year, Washington’s receiving core was among the least productive groups in the NFL. They were affected by injuries, though the group had little impact overall.
Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder — Washington’s starting wideouts in Week 1 last year — combined for just 1,182 yards on 93 catches. By comparison, there were 13 receivers across the NFL who individually surpassed that yardage.
The Redskins understood they needed to add talent at the position.
McLaurin and Harmon, in theory, accomplish that.
“They are both very versatile in their route tree,” Gruden said after the draft. “That’s why we like them. They don’t just run bubble screens and hitches or go-balls. They run a little bit of everything. …They are both very diverse in what they can do.”
At rookie minicamp, Gruden said he was impressed with Harmon’s size. Though 6-foot-2 isn’t overwhelming for the position, Harmon uses it well — appearing much bigger in person than he does on film, Gruden said.
The Redskins envision Harmon being able to play both inside and out, though the 22-year-old played on the outside at North Carolina State.
Gruden called Harmon a “quarterback friendly” target.
Still, there are reasons Harmon slid in the draft. There are concerns about his speed after he ran a 4.6 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. NFL.com’s scouting report noted Harmon had trouble separating himself from tight coverage. He’ll have to show he can create separation at the pro level.
“I just know the coaches know what I’m capable of doing, so I’m just going to go out there and prove it each and every week,” Harmon said.
McLaurin, meanwhile, displayed an impressive ability to break in and out of routes. His comfort level with Haskins was evident, and McLaurin said the two have trust in each other.
Washington also expects McLaurin to be a valuable contributor on special teams.
Gruden said the team ranked McLaurin as the best special teams player on its board, and at Ohio State, coach Urban Meyer said McLaurin was one of the best gunners he’s ever coached. (A gunner is a position on special teams.)
McLaurin, too, provided leadership with the Buckeyes. He was named a captain in his last two seasons — something the Redskins especially value when looking for players.
“When Terry spoke you listened, and that’s just great admiration for him and how he prepares and how he works,” Haskins said. “Just being able to be close with him throughout the season, having him here in D.C. will be great for me and my career, and his as well.”
Added Gruden: “It’s not so much that we didn’t exactly target only captains, but if it’s close between two players and one of them was a two-year captain at wide receiver with the skillset that Terry had, that’s an easy pick.”