The Washington Redskins spent much of the past NFL season dealing with position battles, mostly occurring on the offensive side of the ball. While Robert Griffin III's arrival has ended the Redskins quarterback controversy, large chunks of playing time at the wide receiver and running back positions have yet to be determined.
Other than last year's starters, three young players on the Redskins roster have an outstanding chance to raise eyebrows and contribute in 2012.
Niles Paul - TE
Converted from a wide receiver last season, the second-year special teams' standout is extremely athletic and versatile at the tight end position. If Paul can beat out the veteran Chris Cooley, the Redskins could feature a dual tight end line that pairs the former wide receiver with Fred Davis. The Redskins may have a situation with Paul and Davis that is similar to the Patriots' extremely successful tight end tandem of Ron Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. At 6'1 and just over 230 pounds, Paul is somewhat undersized as a tight end, but possesses speed that can create mismatches against opposing defenders. In order for Paul to thrive as a complete tight end, he must improve on his blocking, which is hindered due to his lack of size.
Leonard Hankerson - WR
The Redskins wide receiver position is a free-for-all after Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss. One of the most likely candidates to see action at the position is Hankerson, who saw limited action during his rookie season last year. Hankerson showed great potential in his rookie year, racking up eight catches for 106 yards in only his second career start. After that breakout game, Hankerson suffered a torn labrum in his hip, which ended his rookie campaign. The sophomore wide receiver can expect to be a key contributor in 2012, but will compete with the newly acquired Josh Morgan as the No. 3 wide out option.
Evan Royster - RB
The Redskins have solid players that can contribute as ball carriers. Royster, 24, ended last year on a high note, finishing the season with back-to-back 100 yard rushing games. The starting running back position is currently up in the air. It seems that the most likely scenario is that the Redskins utilize all three running backs in their ground game, instead of only one primary running back, as Royster should split time with Tim Hightower and Roy Helu. Royster may not be the fastest running back in the league, but he does excel as a blocker. The former Penn State star also possesses great backfield vision that allows him to find holes and weave through the opponent's defense. Expect Royster to exceed expectations and have an increased role in 2012.