Quick feet, crisp routes, versatility. Those are all traits head coach Jay Gruden dreamed of in a wideout when Washington took Jamison Crowder out of Duke in the 2015 draft. Flash forward four years, with free agency pending, and Washington has a decision to make on one of its most productive and unique offensive weapons.
Gruden has made it no secret that the Redskins want the 5-foot-9 slot man back in the lineup come Week 1 of the upcoming season, saying Washington "has to try and get him back."
"He is a very young player, developing, and his best years are in front of him," Gruden continued. "I feel the same way about Preston [Smith]. I think they're going to explode on the scene here very shortly. He's got great quickness in intermediate routes, can separate, has good hands, he's tough, he's physical in the running game. There is really not anything that Jamison can't do. You look at his size and say he's little, but he plays big."
Crowder himself has enjoyed his time in Washington so far as well.
"I'm comfortable here," Crowder said. "Obviously I have a really high interest level of coming back."
Comfortability is something Crowder has shown throughout his career so far, wearing multiple hats in a unique offense that has endured a turning door at quarterback. Over his four-year career lining up in the slot and out wide, Crowder has totaled 2,268 yards with 221 catches and has reached the end zone 14 times. His best season came in 2016 where he posted career highs in yards (847), receptions (67), and touchdowns (7).
In the slot, however, is where Crowder has shown to be one of the NFL's best young receivers.
"I think that the slot is a position where you can create mismatches," Crowder stated. "Guys that play on the outside typically just going to go against defensive backs. Now there are a lot of top defensive backs, but inside we gotta contend with linebackers, safety's, nickel slots whatever it may be. So, it's a great time to be a slot receiver."
With success sometimes comes downfall, and Crowder has had to deal with multiple injuries thus far in career. He missed seven games this year due to an ankle injury after dealing with hamstring issues last year that limited his workload. He won't, however, need surgery this offseason.
"Nah, no surgery. When I came back I let it heal to a point where I felt I was comfortable to come back," Crowder said. "There was some weeks during the injury where I was trying to come back. But I would go out and run and try to run routes and stuff like that with some of the trainers. It just wasn't ready to go out there and compete at a high level against other professional athletes, it just wasn't ready."
Along with his body not being at 100 percent, the limited chemistry between Crowder and the four signal-callers over the spaneof two months ultimately halted his production.
"It was tough, but I told him [Josh Johnson] yesterday at the end of the game it was fun getting a chance to play with him," Crowder said. "He came in and he made the most out of it. We had meetings with just quarterbacks and receivers and running backs, tight ends whatever it was.Try to sit down and talk things through and try to get on the same page with each other as much as we could in a short time span. He stepped in, I felt like he did a really good job."
As a big offseason looms for both sides, Washington will look to bring back the stud slot man. If unable to, Gruden and his staff would look at all options to fill a huge gap in an offense that looks for much better production come Week 1.