INDIANAPOLIS — Among the many problems the Washington Redskins faced last offseason, receiver was at the top of the list. Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner wanted out and the team acquiesced by trading both players.
In return for Coles, the Redskins hit paydirt with Santana Moss, who had 84 catches and made the Pro Bowl. In return for Gardner, they got Carolina’s seventh-round draft pick this year.
But as the NFL Scouting Combine continues today at RCA Dome, the Redskins — at least in the eyes of many — still need help at receiver. David Patten battled a knee injury and was limited to 22 catches, James Thrash is more of a special teams player/No. 4 receiver and the warranty on Taylor Jacobs should be expired.
Limited cap space and a thin free agent class leave it unlikely the Redskins will acquire a receiver next weekend. That leaves the draft for the Redskins to find a player who will bring size to the team. Moss and Patten are both 5-foot-10.
The Redskins don’t have a first-round pick, because of the Jason Campbell transaction last year. By the time they select at No. 54, Ohio State’s Santonio Holmes and Florida’s Chad Jackson will be gone.
That leaves maybe not the most ballyhooed receivers, but a solid group nonetheless; players who could be capable of providing the Redskins with another weapon alongside Moss and Patten. Here are five receivers that could emerge this weekend:
1. Derek Hagan, Arizona State
Hagan (6-2, 208) ended his Sun Devil career the school’s all-time leader in catches (258) and yards (3,939), passing current Redskins director of player development John Jefferson in both categories. He had 77 catches for 1,210 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
But a lackluster Senior Bowl week has some projecting Hagan has a second-round pick.
“They know I can catch the ball,” he said. “I had four great years at Arizona State and one week of practice definitely shouldn’t define me as a player. I felt like I could have done it but it comes down to concentrating better.”
Hagan has trained with Olympic champion Michael Johnson to run a solid 40 time. He would provide the Redskins with a red zone threat who is big enough to catch the fade.
2. Martin Nance, Miami (Ohio)
Nance (6-4, 213) would automatically become the Redskins’ biggest receiver. He caught passes from Ben Roethlisberger for two seasons at Miami and produced without him as well. Nance had 81 catches for 1,107 yards and 14 touchdowns last fall.
Nance is physical enough to go against linebackers in the slot but is confident he can go downfield.
“I can stretch the field but also make the catch underneath,” he said. “And I can make plays after the catch. I don’t consider myself just a possession guy. People who haven’t seen me play will see a guy that’s big and can make plays with the ball.”
3. Demetrius Williams, Oregon
Williams (6-1, 197) is one inch shorter and six pounds heavier than his listing in the Ducks’ media guide last season.
“There are a lot of guys bigger and stronger but I think I bring other things to the table,” Williams said. “Our offense takes the tight end out of the game on third down and puts the ball in the receivers’ hands.”
4. Maurice Stovall, Notre Dame
Benefiting from the play calling of Charlie Weis and the arm of Brady Quinn, Stovall had a huge season for the Irish — 69 catches for 1,149 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Like Nance, Stovall is big (6-5, 222) and proved effective in the red zone. The Redskins’ main inside-the-20 option last season was H-back Chris Cooley.
5. Sinorice Moss, Miami (Fla.)
It would be a feel-good story — the Redskins drafting Santana Moss’ younger brother, but it wouldn’t solve the need for a large receiver. Sinorice is 5-foot-8, 185 pounds.
Sinorice had 31 catches for 492 yards in his first three seasons, but led the Hurricanes with 37 receptions for 614 yards (and six touchdowns) as a senior. He fought ankle and knee injuries his first two years and didn’t start until the second game of his junior year.
“I see some similarities between them,” Redskins offensive coordinator Don Breaux said. “I was watching the Senior Bowl and on his touchdown, he made a great adjustment to the ball and then reached out at the last second to catch it.”