Conner's Corner: Is Redskins rookie WR Josh Doctson 2016 Insurance?

Film analyst Paul Conner shows some ways the Redskins' first-round pick will be used in his rookie season -- and going forward.

The Washington Redskins went against popular mock draft trends when they selected a wide receiver with the 22nd overall pick. It's no surprise though, considering Scot McCloughan has been blazing his own trail since he arrived in Washington. It's been discussed many times that with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon entering free agency following the 2016 season, don't be shocked if they invest in the wide receiver position. When the selection was made in the first round, draftniks looked at it as a forward-thinking decision with eyes beyond 2016.

Don't be fooled into thinking this is just a future investment. I'm not talking about just a few red-zone/special packages either.

Jamison Crowder and Garcon are good contributors, but there is no question this offense revolves around playmakers Jackson and tight end Jordan Reed, who just received a large payday for his efforts. Jackson's big play accomplishments need no introduction. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was substantially better when he had these two available.

That's the issue, or at least the fear. Both players have missed their fair share of snaps and games. Jackson watched seven full games last year (eight, if you minus the handful of plays against the Dolphins before he aggravated his hamstring). Reed missed two games last year, five games in 2014 and five games in 2013. If (bad) history repeats itself, Cousins will have games without Jackson or Reed or both.

Enter Josh Doctson, the aforementioned rookie receiver. Coach Jay Gruden will already have some special packages where Doctson can help out on third downs and in the red zone, but the TCU product will need to get up to speed quickly as his talents could likely be counted on for extended periods of time. Let's take a look at the tape.

DeSean Jackson

The most important trait you need to be considered a downfield threat is the ability to track the ball in the air. It doesn't matter how fast a player is or how well he runs a route, if he can't track the ball, teams won't have to gameplan for him. Jackson is fantastic at tracking the ball and combines that with elite speed. This is what keeps defensive coordinators up at night. Whether they are throwing him a home run ball or he's being used as a decoy to open up stuff underneath, there is no doubt that his presence adds a new dynamic to the offense. Jackson's skills force many defensive players to panic at the moment of truth, causing mental errors or penalties. 

Here's DeSean Jackson on the outside running a fly route. Cousins notices the one-on-one immediately.

Jackson is still trying to separate from the press coverage, but Cousins is already throwing the ball. Kirk puts the ball out in front knowing Jackson is going to hit a second gear to go track that ball.

Jackson pulls away and catches the ball with little resistance from the defense.

It's not always speed for Jackson. His ability to track the ball helps him make contested catches, too. Another fly route on this play.

Cousins is letting go of the ball and the defender is in stride with Jackson.

Jackson doesn't get much separation and the ball floats, but Jackson jumps and catches it at the highest point. He has a "that's my ball" personality. 

At 6-foot-2, Josh Doctson is not the same type of receiver as DeSean Jackson. That doesn't mean if he has to play for Jackson, he can't be the same type of threat though. Doctson also does a fantastic job of tracking the ball in the air. Instead of speed, he combines this with an elite vertical and timing of his jumps. 

Here's Josh Doctson on a fly route against press coverage.

As Doctson looks back and sees the ball in the air, he starts to pull away from the defender.

Doctson makes a fantastic catch along the sideline.

Here is Josh Doctson on a double move against off coverage.

Doctson gets the cornerback to bite hard on the move and gets a few steps on him.

Doctson comes back and high-points the ball, giving the defender no chance to compete for it. Doctson has that same "that's my ball" attitude when he sees it in the air. 

Jackson and Doctson win down the field in different ways but they both win down the field. They are not the same type of receiver but Doctson may have to wear Jackson's shoes a few games this year to provide the same type of threat. 

Jordan Reed

If Reed has to miss time, the Redskins have Vernon Davis and Niles Paul to pick up the traditional tight end duties. Where Doctson comes in is winning one-on-one matchups and being reliable in key moments. Jordan Reed possesses elite footwork and no one can mirror that skill. Behind all the jump balls and highlight-reel touchdowns, Doctson has an underrated short-to-intermediate game. The Redskins have made a habit of isolating Reed in big situations, giving him space and letting him work. Doctson did this at TCU as well.

Last year, this became one of the Redskins' favorite formations because of Reed's skill set. Shotgun Trips (R or L) Y-Iso. The Y (which means tight end) would line up opposite the trips. Reed ran a variety of routes depending on the coverage (fly, hitch, slant, drag, all shown). This was used in key situations when the Redskins needed a first down or momentum play.

Here is Doctson in the same formation but, of course, instead of Y-Iso, it's X-Iso (Doctson is the X receiver). TCU needs a first down on third and 9. Doctson is running a slant route against press coverage.

Doctson breaks on his route and gets separation from the cornerback. Trevone Boykin is already unloading the pass.

Not only does Doctson catch the slant and get the first down, but he puts his foot in the ground and gets back outside taking this all the way to the end zone for a touchdown.

Here is a second-and-9 play. Doctson in X-Iso is running a slant against off coverage.

Doctson really sells the fly route before breaking on the slant. The cornerback fears the deep jump ball so he bails further than he needs to.

Doctson catches the ball on the run and because of the cushion his skills created, he's able to outrun everyone to the end zone for a touchdown.

How many times have we seen Jordan Reed isolated at the goal line and force-fed the football? TCU needs a two-point conversion here. Doctson is running a slant against man coverage. 

The cornerback just watches Doctson so when Doctson breaks on his route, the cornerback does as well. 

Doctson does a great job using his body to shield the defender away. He presents a big target, catches the ball and falls forward into the end zone. 

The plan for Doctson is to play a decent amount of snaps per game relieving starters (a la Ryan Grant and Andre Roberts) on the outside while coming in on his own specialized package of plays designed by Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay. History says he's going to need all those reps to prepare for extended playing time at some point in the season as Jackson and Reed aren't the epitome of health.

Josh Doctson is not DeSean Jackson or Jordan Reed, but possess skills to threaten down the field and in one-on-one matchups. A draft pick theoretically spent to address the team's wide receiver contract situation in 2017 could play and pay big dividends before either Garcon's or Jackson's agreement runs out. When Doctson gets his first start in 2016, remember that some draftniks said the Redskins didn't need a receiver, and when they grabbed one, remember that they said it was more for 2017. Be satisfied knowing that Scot McCloughan proved them wrong once again.

Paul Conner is the Film Analyst and Draft Evaluator at Breaking Burgundy. You can follow him on Twitter @P_ConnerJr

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