What the Washington Redskins Should Expect from New Corner E.J. Biggers

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What the Washington Redskins Should Expect from New Corner E.J. Biggers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins were forced to say goodbye to DeAngelo Hall earlier in the offseason, and now it appears they've replaced Hall in the starting lineup with a solid young cover guy in E.J. Biggers, who was signed on the free-agent market Wednesday. 

The big difference is that while Hall became the Redskins' slot corner in nickel situations, taking 43 percent of his coverage snaps inside, Biggers took 83 percent of his cover snaps with the Buccaneers last season on the outside. And thus schematically, Biggers is probably better described as Cedric Griffin's replacement than Hall's. 

Either way, he'll be asked to fill a void and could have to increase those slot snaps if no other candidates emerge. 

Ideally, second-year SMU product Richard Crawford emerges as a reliable slot corner in 2013, giving Biggers and Josh Wilson the ability to stick to outside receivers. 

Not only do the Redskins save money with Biggers, but they get a lot younger. Somehow, Hall was still only 29 while Griffin was 30, but Biggers, who was a seventh-round pick in 2009, is only 25 and is coming off a breakout season in Tampa. 

His 6.2 PFF coverage rating was higher than any corner in the NFC East in 2012, including the high-priced Brandon Carr and 2011 first-round pick Prince Amukamara. When he was thrown at, he was slightly better than average, but he wasn't targeted very often. That's a good sign when you're in your first semi-full year as a starter. 

Since he's got the experience and has delivered at this level, and because he is familiar with what the Redskins do after playing for Raheem Morris early in his career, Biggers will enter organized team activities as the team's No. 2 corner. He'll have to fight off Crawford and fellow youngster Chase Minnifield, as well as any cornerbacks they decide to draft in late-April, but there's also a chance that he continues to blossom and supplants Wilson to become the go-to cover man by the time September rolls around. 

Actually, a great example of Biggers being able to stay with talented outside receivers came in a clutch fourth-quarter moment against Robert Griffin III and the Redskins in Week 4 this past season. Biggers was on Leonard Hankerson...

Here they are at 10 yards...

And 20 yards...

And 30 yards...

And finally as the ball arrives at 50 yards...

Blanket coverage as his team was trying to stay within a field goal in the final five minutes. No need for safety help, which is good because he isn't likely to get a ton of that in Washington.

He's not necessarily the playmaker that Hall was, but he had a pick in 2012 and also broke up a tight pass to Dexter McCluster in Week 6 that resulted in a Ronde Barber interception. It was his work that created what turned out to be a pick-six...

Of course, he wouldn't have come cheap and late in free agency if he didn't have some flaws. He was burned by a few specific receivers in 2012, with his worst game coming in Week 8 against Minnesota. He does a great job sticking with receivers but has to work on his ball skills. That was on display when Jerome Simpson simply outjumped him on a well-covered route for 33 yards...

The tape also revealed that Biggers was good at getting down to cover up short routes (a big reason why he was able to force a pair of fumbles), although his tackling and run defense could improve. He did have a sack and blitzes every so often, so expect Jim Haslett to use him in that way if Hall isn't back in 2013. 

The biggest play he made all year came on a blitz against Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter of a close game in Week 12...

Strip sack? Exactly what Haslett wants from his corners.

Expect Biggers to fit in nicely. And if he can continue to improve and become more consistent, this could be one of the more underrated signings of the 2013 offseason.

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