Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami Hurricanes
40-Time: (NFL Scouting Combine Time Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 to be added)
When I watch film on Hankerson all I can keep talking about and making notes on is his hands. I don't like receivers that allow the ball to get into their body before trapping it against their chest. This shows that the receiver doesn't have confidence in his pass catching ability. It doesn't mean that they won't make it at the next level, but they won't be the elite receivers.
The combine's drills will show the receivers that have lived off of catching balls in the open field by trapping the ball instead of trusting their hands. Being open in college is very different from being open in the pros. If a receiver waits for the ball to come land against his chest, then most the time the cornerback will have already broken the pass up or intercepted it.
Hankerson won't have to worry about that. He catches everything with his hands and should definitely be considered one of the best pure pass-catching receivers in the draft. He's a natural catcher, meaning that when he makes a play on the ball, it's appears effortless. His hand-eye coordination is second to none and it pairs well with his ability to maneuver his slender frame and torque his body to make the impossible catch..
Leonard will be a difficult matchup for corners with bad hips that can't defend the double move. The reason being that he runs extremely crisp routes.
When you see Hankerson on film, you usually see him with a decent separation between himself and the defender. It would be easy to mistake this as him having blazing speed. It's not the case, though. Leonard is able to get the separation due to sharp cuts and crisp routes. It is still an area of concern for a rookie that could come in matched up against a shut down corner and not be able to separate.
He has a slender frame that allows him to maneuver with ease and get out of cuts, but that same frame isn't built for yards after contact. You'll see Leonard getting a lot of big gains on film and yards after the catch, but you never see him just really elude tacklers that are hanging off of him. A big part of the pro game is getting every yard out of every play.
Hankerson is an all around athlete. Other than football, he also played basketball and competed in track in high school. I believe that these other sports have all groomed him into a better receiver.
There's really no reason not to believe that Leonard can't make it at the next level. His statistics always get mentioned with some of the NFL greats that have come out of Miami. Hankerson became only the 3rd player in the history of the University of Miami to have back-to-back 800 yard receiving seasons. The other two were Michael Irvin and Andre Johnson.
Even though he was used as the premier receiver at the U, and his stats rival #1 caliber receivers like Irvin and Johnson, I see Hankerson more as a premier #2 receiver. His best fit would be to go to a team that already has an elite receiver in place. He could step in as the possession receiver and that'll allow a team to use him towards all of his strengths..
Potential NFL Team, Round
Going with what I said in the other notes, I would really like to see Hankerson get paired with an elite receiver. Hankerson would pair great opposite of Roddy White with the Atlanta Falcons who have the 27th pick in the first round. Giving Matty Ice that type of receiving duo with a solid running game could have the Falcons somewhere they haven't been since the dirty south was doing the dirty bird.
I could see Hankerson going as high as 21st to the Kansas City Chiefs, but no lower than the Houston Texans at the 10th pick of the 2nd round. KC would be smart to pick up Leonard to relieve some of the pressure on Dwayne Bowe and spread the field to get bigger holes for Jamaal Charles. Although the Texans have more pressing needs on the defensive side of the ball, I doubt they could pass on Hankerson, who is a much more talented possession receiver than Kevin Walters. Plus, Andre Johnson loves to mentor young receivers out of the U.
In between that span of picks, we could also see one of the following teams make a play for the wideout: Chicago Bears (30), Buffalo Bills (34), Cincinnati Bengals (35), Cleveland Browns (37), Tennessee Titans (39), and Washington Redskins (41).
Jayson Braddock appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ JaysonBraddock
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