As part of our Redskins 2020 Offseason Update presented by Bud Light Seltzer, we're focusing on wide receiver Terry McLaurin in our Player Spotlight feature brought to you by our friends at Acronis.
It's widely known that Terry McLaurin had one of the best seasons by a rookie wide receiver in Redskins history, but it turns out his 2019 campaign was one of best by an NFL rookie receiver over the past decade.
McLaurin caught passes from three quarterbacks, missed two games and was a part of the league's worst passing offense but still totaled 58 receptions for 919 yards and seven touchdowns, all of which were top 3 among rookie wideouts. Despite the unfavorable circumstances, his production and consistency earned him an overall grade of 86.5, according to Pro Football Focus.
In the past 10 years, only Odell Beckham Jr. (2014) graded higher.
McLaurin's spectacular debut brought increased media attention, greater responsibility -- both as a player and a young leader -- and towering expectations for his encore performance. Yet as he prepares for the 2020 campaign, the outside pressure does not seem to be weighing on him.
"Just trying to continue to push myself to newer heights, newer limits," McLaurin said in a videoconference June 11. "I don't try to put numbers on it like, 'Hey, I plan on having this many yards, this many catches.' Just being a guy who's productive. Whatever that means for our team, that's what it means.
"I also want to be a guy who can be a dominant receiver in this league. I don't shy away from that. That's a type of expectation I have with myself, that's the type of preparation I'm preparing for."
McLaurin admitted he was happy with what he accomplished as a rookie, but in no way did he bask in his accomplishments. In fact, after taking off the month of January to physically and mentally recover, he began working out the Wednesday after the Super Bowl. Some questioned his early start, but he got in nearly two months of training before the novel coronavirus upended society.
McLaurin has used the offseason to work on his laundry list of desired improvements, such as attacking the ball, making contested catches, winning 1-on-1 matchups and running clean routes to name a few. He has also been studying his own game tape to figure out what "tells" he has possibly been giving away. Teams now have a full year of video on him, so he knows some of what he did last season may not work as easily.
"I just try to take it in stride, be humble, not be complacent with what I've done because there are so many things I feel like I can still do to get better and help our team," McLaurin said. "So with a new staff, my mentality coming into camp is to prove it like I tried to do for…our staff last year, coming in with a day one mentality trying to learn as much as I can and just being a guy who can take that next step and somebody that can continue to be depended on this upcoming season."
As the Redskins' No. 1 receiver, McLaurin brings a "can't afford to lose" mentality to every repetition of every workout. From training in Florida to his hometown of Indianapolis and then in Virginia, he's displayed that philosophy by going first during drills, running the correct routes and making the quarterback feel as comfortable as possible. This has been especially important when working out with second-year signal-caller Dwayne Haskins Jr. and fellow young wideouts Kelvin Harmon and Steven Sims Jr.
In the virtual classroom, McLaurin has focused on learning the concepts of every wide receiver position in Scott Turner's offense. Both Turner and wide receivers coach Jim Hostler envision McLaurin as the X receiver -- "your boundary receiver, your 1-on-1 guy," McLaurin said -- but they also covet his versatility and want to be able to move him around depending on the formation.
McLaurin expects the new-look Redskins' offense to spread defenses out and attack them down the field with explosive plays, which makes sense given Haskins' strong arm and his variety of offensive weapons. But McLaurin's role will remain similar; the new coaching staff wants to get him the ball as much as possible.
Moore, the 24th overall pick in 2018, put up similar numbers to McLaurin as a rookie before establishing himself as one of the top young receivers in the NFL last season. In 15 games, he ranked 15th in the league with 87 receptions and ninth with 1,175 receiving yards while adding four touchdowns.
Many believe McLaurin could produce those kinds of numbers, but he only has one quantitative goal for 2020: to play in every game.
Other than that, McLaurin is looking forward to making the most of his opportunities as the Redskins' top offensive weapon. He knows it will be a challenge, but he and his teammates believe his offseason training has helped prepare him to have even more success this fall.
"It's the best I've seen Terry," Haskins said, "and I've known Terry since I was a freshman in college."