Antonio Gandy-Golden facing big opportunity after Kelvin Harmon’s injury

Washington lost Kelvin Harmon for the 2020 season to an ACL tear. His absence opens up a big opportunity for Antonio Gandy-Golden.

Washington got some bad news on Tuesday morning when it was revealed that Kelvin Harmon had torn his ACL while preparing for the 2020 season. The 2019 sixth-round draft pick had totaled 30 catches for 365 yards as a rookie and came on late in the season while showing a strong rapport with Dwayne Haskins.

Harmon’s injury will leave a hole in the team’s already thin receiver corps for the 2020 NFL season. He was expected to be a starter across from Terry McLaurin with Steven Sims Jr. manning the slot. But now, he will focus on preparing for the 2021 NFL season while another young player will look to step into his starting role.

That young player should be Antonio Gandy-Golden. The 2020 fourth-round pick out of Liberty has a similar skill set to that of Harmon and could end up being a quality replacement for the NC State product in this big opportunity.

Gandy-Golden is a big-bodied receiver at 6-4, 220 pounds and was highly productive during his college days. During his final two years at Liberty, he posted 150 catches for 2,433 yards and 20 touchdowns as the school made the switch to the Div. I level. While he played mostly against lower-level competition, his success against Syracuse, BYU, and Virginia as a senior proved that he could be productive against higher-caliber college players.

Though Gandy-Golden was productive in college, he slipped to the end of the fourth round in the 2020 draft because of concerns about his separation skills. That was the same thing that dropped Harmon to the sixth frame in 2019; both players lack top-level speed and clocked 4.6 times in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

That said, both players are excellent jump-ball players and thrive making contested catches. As Harmon demonstrated last season, he had the skills needed to be a No. 2 possession-based receiver at the next level. Gandy-Golden could prove to be something similar and may have a chance to be a nice red-zone weapon, too, thanks to his size.

If Gandy-Golden can develop quickly and form some chemistry with Haskins, that will help Washington to replace Harmon, at least for this season. It’s not ideal to throw a rookie receiver into the fire after a shortened offseason, but it could pan out if Gandy-Golden learns from increased reps as a rookie.

Losing Harmon is certainly not ideal given Washington’s weak receiver depth chart. But at least Gandy-Golden is in the fold as another young, potential-based option who can grow with the team’s young starters that are already in place.