It is widely agreed upon that the Washington Redskins need to improve their secondary. In order to combat today’s pass-happy NFL, the use of lockdown corners and reliable safety play has become increasingly imperative.
Drafting defensive backs early in the draft this April is something that the Redskins organization is used to over the past 10 years—Sean Taylor in 2004, Carlos Rogers in 2005, LaRon Landry in 2007 and Kevin Barnes in 2008.
I can remember the Redskins drafting LaRon Landry out of LSU and salivated at the idea of him and Sean Taylor sharing the defensive backfield together. Of course, Taylor was tragically murdered months later and Landry sulked his way out of Redskins Park.
As bad as the Redskins were at that time, I thought if there was at least one answer as far as personnel was concerned, and it was the safety positions. Obviously, I was wrong.
Sadly, the Redskins have yet to find a valid replacement for the slain Taylor. The front office has explored multiple options via the draft and free agency; however, none of them have panned out.
It appears that the Skins are going to try again this offseason, as a wide selection of defensive backs are going to be available for April’s draft.
I’ve taken a look at three experts and their thoughts on what the Redskins should do with their draft. I’ll provide my input as well.
The country’s most productive safety out of Fresno State has been on the Redskins radar and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper likes him too (h/t Rich Campbell, The Washington Times).
Selecting a player in the second round is someone who is talented enough to be considered a first-rounder, but is lacking something in his game that’s preventing him from being taken higher.
At a mid-major like Fresno State, Thomas didn’t get receive the national attention he could have received had he been at a major college football program.
On the other hand, this makes Phillip Thomas a realistic option at the 51st overall pick.
With Brandon Meriweather set to return, that gives Thomas the opportunity to start at free safety.
On the other hand, can a second-round pick immediately step in and start? While they aren’t the long-term answers, Reed Doughty or DeJon Gomes can fill in as Thomas continues to acclimate himself with the defense.
I really hope Matt Miller is right. Matt Elam is a special player; however, I don’t see him slipping to late in the second round.
He’s as physical as they come, and he’s been coached by Will Muschamp, who also helped LaRon Landry and Earl Thomas become first-rounders.
He’s versatile in his skill set, as he can line up against the slot receiver or play center field.
Overall, Elam is a safe pick. He seems best suited as a strong safety, which is where Brandon Meriweather would line up.
Elam might be the best available, but he might not be the best fit for the Redskins defense.
John Keim is the best beat reporter the Redskins have. Not only is he timely in his columns, but he’s extremely thorough and has remained helpful throughout my coverage of the Redskins.
He recently interviewed ex-NFL scout Russ Lande and got his take on the Skins' options, one of which is David Amerson.
According to Lande, Amerson is being projected as a safety instead of a cornerback.
Transitioning to a new position in the NFL is a common procedure. You often see defensive ends convert to linebackers or defensive tackles convert to ends, but switching from cornerback to safety is not as common.
Amerson is certainly a big name, he was once highly-touted after his 2011 season in Raleigh, North Carolina, but he slipped in his follow-up season.
The apprehension I have with this selection is that the Redskins absolutely need to hit on this pick. They need a safe and reliable player that can produce sooner than later.
Amerson seems to be a high-risk/high-reward type of prospect, and drafting a potential project like him can substantially hinder the Redskins’ plans for the future.
With that being said, Mike Shanahan is also the same guy who selected Maurice Clarett while in Denver and also drafted two quarterbacks with his first three selections last year. Needless to say, stranger things have happened.
If I had to put it in order of the three, I like Kiper’s selection of Phillip Thomas, then Matt Miller’s selection of Matt Elam followed by David Amerson.
All are sensible selections, but Thomas both feels realistic and a good fit in the defense.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amerson fall to the third round. If he does, then that could be a steal.