What WR Adam Humphries could bring to Washington
Taking a closer look at what Humphries could offer Washington if signed after his scheduled visit.
Washington is reportedly looking to sign veteran free agent receiver Adam Humphries. Humphries is set to visit Washington with the team “making a push” to strike a deal. The 5-foot-10, 195 pound receiver went undrafted in 2015 before catching on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he caught passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick for a couple of seasons. He then signed with the Titans before being cut earlier this offseason. So how would Humphries fit in Washington? Let’s take a closer look.
Humphries is primarily a slot receiver, though he has moved around a bit and played outside occasionally. He also offers some ability as a punt returner, which is something Washington could also use with. The immediate standout trait when watching Humphries is his quickness. He’s not necessarily the fastest receiver over a long distance, but he has good short area quickness that allows him to get in and out of breaks quickly and create separation.
This play comes from 2018, when Humphries played with Fitzpatrick in Tampa Bay. Working against Ron Rivera’s Panthers, Humphries aligns in the slot and runs a quick pivot route. He initially breaks outside before sharply cutting back on himself and getting inside before bending his route up the field. He’s in and out of the pivot in three fast steps, allowing him to separate from the defender in coverage quickly. Fitzpatrick has no issues finding him for a touchdown.
While that play came from a few years ago, quickness is still a key component of Humphries game. He uses it in short, underneath routes to win early in the play and move the chains in third and short situations.
Here, Humphries aligns to the left of the formation with a receiver stacked behind him. It’s third and short and Humphries just needs to break open quickly to pick up a first down and move the chains. He runs another pivot route, this time breaking inside initially before cutting back outside. Humphries sits his route down just beyond the first down marker, but feels the defender close by, so peels away outside to make himself more available. The quarterback’s throw comes in hot, high and slightly inside, but Humphries makes a solid adjustment to secure the pass and pick up the first down.
Another standout trait of Humphries’ is his toughness. He was routinely asked to work over the middle and catch contested passes that lead him into big hits. He never shied away from contact, despite the smaller frame, and typically came up with the catch despite taking some significant hits.
Here are two examples of quick slants that lead Humphries into big hits over the middle. On both occasions, he shows no fear or hesitation going over the middle, focusing purely on making the catch and securing the ball rather than worrying about a potential hit. Both times he manages to pull in the catch and secure the ball while withstanding big hits.
Unfortunately, those hits led to some injuries. Last season, he took a huge hit working over the middle and missed four games due to a concussion. He came back for one game but then landed on injured reserve a few days later and missed the rest of the season. Hopefully that concussion issue has been dealt with and he’s over it now, but it’s certainly something Washington will need to be aware of and comfortable with.
When healthy though, Humphries displays good route running from the slot, which combined with his quickness allows him to create plenty of separation.
This is another play from 2018, when Humphries was catching passes from Fitzpatrick for the Buccaneers. This play comes from their game against Washington. Humphries runs a deep over route, crossing the middle of the field. Humphries sets up his route well, initially angling his route slightly inside before taking a few deliberate vertical steps to threaten slot corner Fabian Moreau vertically. Moreau sinks back an extra step or two to ensure he stays on top of the route, giving Humphries the ability to separate from him as he breaks over the middle. Fitzpatrick layers a beautiful throw over the linebacker dropping into his underneath zone, finding Humphries for a big gain.
Humphries provides his quarterback with a reliable set of hands. He catches most balls thrown his way and is capable of making significant adjustments to both his body position and his route in order to help correct the quarterback’s throw. This makes him an extremely friendly target for the quarterback.
Here, Humphries aligns outside to the left of the formation. He sells a post route before breaking off the route and working back outside. The Vikings play zone coverage with the outside corner peeling off the route as Humphries breaks inside to the post. That leaves the corner in perfect position to pick up the route again as Humphries breaks back outside. The quarterback looks to throw as Humphries breaks outside, but with the corner in position the throw isn’t available. Humphries doesn’t give up there though, he adjusts his path, giving up some ground to come back towards the ball. That gives his quarterback a second window to throw into and Humphries makes the catch.
All of these traits combine to make Humphries a valuable target on third down. The quickness, toughness, route running and reliable hands are all extremely important traits on third down. When he puts it all together, he can be a go-to receiver in the slot in third down situations.
On third and four, Humphries aligns in a stacked set to the right and runs an out route. He angles his path inside towards the hashmarks initially, giving himself space and leverage to break outside. He then shows sharp route running, breaking off his route cleanly with little wasted movements to maximize the separation between himself and the linebacker inside and the safety over the top. The throw from the quarterback is slightly high and outside, but Humphries adjusts to the flight of the ball and makes the catch. As he pulls the ball in, the outside corner peels off and lands a strong hit. Humphries manages to hold on and bounce back up, picking up the first down.
Humphries isn’t just a slot receiver either. He offers some versatility, being able to line up outside on occasion and move around the formation in general. Back in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers would occasionally use him in some trick plays and gadget plays, much like Scott Turner has done with the likes of Curtis Samuel in the past.
On this play, Humphries initially aligns outside to the left before Fitzpatrick signals him to motion to join him in the backfield. From there, Humphries becomes the running back as the Buccaneers execute a crack toss run scheme. Humphries follows his blockers to the edge, cutting back inside to pick up a solid seven yards on the carry.
While those types of plays will be mostly reserved for Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic in Washington, it certainly doesn’t hurt to add another versatile player into that mix.
Ultimately though, Humphries will mostly be used as a slot receiver. He’s a reliable, quarterback friendly target that understands how to separate in key situations. My concern with this signing is that he’s a starting caliber slot receiver, which is where I anticipated Samuel taking most of his reps. Perhaps Washington sees Humphries’ reliability and consistency in the slot as an attractive option that allows Samuel to play the Z receiver role but still be moved around regularly. The Z receiver can still move around plenty and do all the things Washington would like to do with Samuel with regards to jet sweeps and other misdirection plays. Humphries also shouldn’t prevent Samuel from working out of the slot either, as he’s capable of moving around himself and aligning in different spots, both inside and outside.
Overall, Humphries would provide Washington with a good slot receiver option and help provide receiving depth. He’s a starting caliber player but isn’t irreplaceable. That gives Washington flexibility when it comes to the draft. The team can still draft a receiver in the early rounds of the draft if it loves a guy that’s available, but Humphries also provides a strong enough option that Washington shouldn’t feel the need to draft a receiver early if the board doesn’t fall that way.