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Don’t Punt Pierre Garcon

This is a case in which you need to look beyond the numbers to see a breakout on the horizon. Pierre Garcon came into the league a very raw prospect from Division III Mount Union and his early playing time supported that. He began to etch a role for himself throughout 2009 and made a name for himself in the AFC Championship win over the New York Jets with an 11-catch, 151-yard, one-touchdown performance. The hype was strong coming into 2010 as he was being drafted as most teams’ No. 2 wide receiver. However, an early injury quickly derailed that train. He returned and produced in his role, but did not take the next step many expected.

Last season is when the light turned on. Often criticized for his issues with drops and inconsistent routes, he was no longer saddled with the security blanket of Peyton Manning. This cold hard truth was realized quickly as he was limited to just six catches for 67 yards and no touchdowns over the first two games with Kerry Collins under center. His eventual replacements, Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter, were better but that didn’t say much. If Garcon was going to sniff anything close to expectations he would have to do it on his own, so he did. For most wide receivers, 70 receptions for 947 yards and six touchdowns is just another decent season, but given what Garcon had to work with this was an impressive performance.

So, how will all of this lead to a breakout season from Garcon? Realizing he can’t put up star-like numbers with wounded ducks being tossed by Curtis Painter within an hour of free agency opening he had already inked with the Washington Redskins. He wanted to be the lead wide receiver on the team with the best quarterback available, and in this market that was the Redskins, and his actions say that is exactly why he signed where he did. It just so happens that his new quarterbacks best quality (the deep ball) will only benefit a burner like Garcon. The Redskins handed him a pile of money, so it’s clear they see him as a starting wide receiver. Also, he’s surrounded by enough talent with Santana Moss opposite him, Fred Davis at tight end, with Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan inside that defenses will not be able to make him a focal point.

If he can put up 70 catches, 947 yards and six touchdowns in the offense he was in last year, an extra 20 catches at 15 yards per (1,200-plus yards) and a few more touchdowns are certainly attainable. His draft stock is being pushed down because he lacks the track record, draft pedigree and is on a team with a ‘rookie quarterback.’ But Robert Griffin III is not just another rookie quarterback. Catch the other owners sleeping at the wheel, snatch up Garcon, and ride this Top 10 wide receiver at a WR3 price to a title.

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