2021 WFT Lineup Predictions: Early look at wide receiver

A very early look at who's in, who's out at WR for Washington originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Few things better paint the unappealing picture of Washington’s wide receiver depth in 2020 than this fact: Dontrelle Inman, a well-traveled veteran, signed with the franchise halfway through training camp — and then proceeded to play an average of 70 percent offensive snaps through the squad’s first six contests.

That was surely not Plan A for Washington Football coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner.

Fortunately for those two coaches, as well as anyone who prefers a potent passing game over a pathetic one, the Burgundy and Gold appear to be far deeper at wideout going into this season.

Instead of the group being made up of Terry McLaurin and a slew of undrafted options, McLaurin is slated to get much more help thanks to all of the offseason additions that have arrived over the past few months.

Even though training camp is still a rather distant event, thinking about the battle that’ll occur at receiver is a very fun activity. So, how about prematurely previewing that battle with this admittedly far-too-early look at the depth chart and where everyone stands?

The “We’ll see you in Week 1” tier

  • Terry McLaurin
  • Curtis Samuel
  • Dyami Brown
  • Adam Humphries

*McLaurin finished 2020 with 87 catches. Conventional thinking would suggest he’s due for a bit of a decline in that department because of the new talent around him, but likely starter Ryan Fitzpatrick has a history of going to his No. 1 guy over and over and over and over. Ninety grabs is definitely in play for McLaurin.

*If everything works out with Samuel — meaning he continues on his career upswing in Washington after breaking out last year in Carolina — he and McLaurin will be the best FedEx Field duo since DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. By the way, Samuel is younger than McLaurin, his old Ohio State teammate, so these two could be together for years.

*A productive rookie year from Brown might be the biggest X-factor for this crew. Even if he doesn’t fully pick up on the complete route tree, his downfield speed should pair perfectly with Fitzpatrick’s willingness to go long, and if that happens, things will get lit. Sorry, but that’s the best way to describe such a scenario.

*McLaurin and Samuel, plus a few guys who are about to get mentioned, can operate in the slot, but Humphries is the true specialist for that role. Plus, he’s displayed a real connection with Fitzpatrick in Tampa. Humphries won’t generate the highlights that the above trio hopefully will, but he should emerge on third downs and be a pivotal piece when it comes to sustaining drives.

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The “We’ll probably see you in Week 1″ tier

  • Cam Sims

*Though Sims still struggles with consistency at the catch point, he finally proved that he could make a difference in meaningful action last season. Up until then, he was a guy who flashed in the summer and then wasn’t heard from again. In 2020, however, he hauled in 32 passes and averaged nearly 15 yards a pop on those receptions. He can’t afford to get too comfy because there will be a lot of competition behind him, but he seemed to impress Rivera’s staff with how he developed from a special teams contributor into something much more.

The “Get ready to grind” tier

  • Steven Sims
  • Antonio Gandy-Golden
  • Dax Milne 
  • Kelvin Harmon
  • Isaiah Wright

*The other Sims didn’t follow up on his encouraging 2019 campaign at all. Injuries certainly slowed down the typically agile threat, but still, he was a disappointment in the slot and very spotty as a punt returner. His name is first on the list only because it’s the most recognizable; don’t mistake that as meaning he’s the safest of this bunch.

*Coaching staffs don’t usually move on from fourth-round selections after a single season, but AGG did nothing as a rookie for Washington. If he doesn’t come to Ashburn healthy and ready to stand out, he could very easily be let go before the opener.

*Milne was Mr. Penultimate as the second-to-last choice in the 2021 Draft, so he’s clearly got his work cut out for him when it comes to making the 53-man roster. That said, he should be a practice squadder, and if he shows he can be more reliable than Sims, maybe he can sneak on as the team’s last wide receiver.

*It’s a shame Harmon tore his ACL in 2020, because there were snaps to be had on the outside and he could’ve emerged as a useful member of the offense. His size gives him a unique attribute over just about every other pro in this story, though. 

*To his credit, Wright posted 27 catches in his first go-round in the league. That said, he looks out of place now that the franchise has properly stocked its receiver depth chart.

The “It’ll take a miracle” tier

  • DeAndre Carter
  • Tony Brown

*Carter is worth a bit of attention thanks to his experience as a kick and punt returner, which is a spot Washington sorely needs more from. He was signed early last month.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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