Leonard Hankerson’s four-year tenure in Washington can be summed up in two words: unfulfilled potential.
He has good size (6-2, 211 pounds) and plenty of athleticism. But the 2011 third round pick couldn’t stay healthy. In fact, hip and knee injuries limited him to 35 games, including only one last year, and he was not re-signed this offseason.
In March, Hankerson ended up inking a one-year, $1 million contract with the Falcons. And so far, he’s proving be a major bargain and the perfect complement to Julio Jones.
In four games, Hankerson has 17 receptions for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Fourteen of his receptions have resulted in first downs.
“Every once in a while you’ve got a chance to take a shot on somebody that has maybe been banged up [and] I thought that was totally worth it with Hank,” first-year Falcons Coach Dan Quinn said in a conference call with Washington reporters on Wednesday. “I think it’s the catching radius that he has.”
Last week, Hankerson posted his second career 100-yard receiving game, hauling in six passes on eight targets for 103-yards and a touchdown in a 48-21 victory over Houston.
“There could be a ball that’s way up high, he can go up to get it. Or it’s out of bounds, and he has the length to extent to go get it," Quinn said. "He’s been a real factor for us on third down, as well. He’s off to a great start with us. He’s worked extremely hard to come back, as you guys know, from all the injuries. He’s gained the respect of the people here by the style and the attitude he plays with.”
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said he realized during OTAs that Hankerson would be an asset this season.
“I think Hank as done a great job,” Ryan said. “I mean, he works really hard. He’s a guy that has helped other guys because of his experience within the system and that’s been beneficial for us. But early on, I knew Hank was going to be a solid player for us because he showcased it during OTAs and during training camp. I mean, he made a lot of players during that time. I think it’s translated into early success for him this season. So I knew kind of right when we got him here and had a chance to work with him just a little bit, I knew he was going to help us out.”