Washington Redskins fans, rejoice. There is hope in the defensive backfield for the upcoming season.
After a dismal year during which it ranked 30th in the NFL in passing defense, Washington made the most of its draft, taking N.C. State cornerback David Amerson at No. 51 and Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas at No. 119.
The Redskins also snagged Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo with the 191st pick, but this draft will be judged on whether or not Amerson and Thomas can produce for a mediocre secondary.
There were questions about why the Redskins decided to draft a cornerback with their first selection, as opposed to a safety.
It probably boils down to the Redskins having a particular fondness for Amerson's skill set—and his size at 6'3" and 194 pounds—and deciding on picking him prior to the draft if he had been available. While raw, he is a very versatile prospect who can spend time in certain packages in 2013 before taking on a bigger role as the team's top cornerback in the near future.
But there's another interesting aspect of the situation, and that involves Amerson's ability to play safety.
Many scouts project him as a safety in the NFL, mostly because he's mechanically undisciplined at corner and has the reaction skills and body type to patrol the middle of the field. It remains to be seen whether or not Washington decides to put Amerson at safety, but it looks like it's an upgrade over either position no matter what.
It's not likely Amerson will make a massive impact in 2013, though his innate playmaking ability could be good for three or four game-changing interceptions. His length could cause issues downfield, and he'll find a way to make smart plays.
The Redskins will do their best to hide his deficiencies; he doesn't have elite speed and depends more on his athleticism than overall mechanics. But he's a solid player who will be an important piece of the championship puzzle soon enough.
Phillip Thomas will be unfairly judged as the savior at the safety position, which is unfortunate because he's a gifted athlete who still has a lot to learn. As the first safety taken by Washington, fans will likely look at him as a player who should perform well, especially given the state of the position.
The fact is, Thomas is nothing more than a prospect. He'll make a few plays here or there, but the only reason he would start is because of injury to a regular.
His impact in 2013 will likely be negligible, but that doesn't mean he won't be productive in the future. He's got to improve in zone coverage and refine his mechanics, but his closing ability is solid and he's a good athlete. The tools are there, but the team and the fans have to be patient.
Overall, it was a decent draft for Washington. Given the fact that the team had no first-round picks, the haul was well-planned and filled needs. No one knows how the prospects will pan out, but the Redskins made the most of a limited situation.