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Fan questions: Jack linebacker, Breeland’s ceiling, and undrafted receivers

May 21, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

We got a great response to the Twitter mailbag this week, enough good questions to do two parts. If you don’t see your question answered here, check back tomorrow. Let’s dive right in:

Depends on what you mean. Will they add camp fodder types to help them get through practice and play during the first and fourth preseason games? That seems likely, particularly at offensive tackle where they have just four players. Are they going to sign anyone who would seriously challenge for a roster spot? I doubt it. First of all, there aren’t very many players who have a legitimate shot at making the 53 on the street right now. Second, they seem to be pretty set at those positions right now. Now, they do have second priority on waiver claims (behind the Texans) so if someone gets cut who would be an upgrade they could make a move if another team releases a useful player.

It looks like there’s going to be something new, something called, wait for it, a competition. Yes, I know that concept hasn’t been heard of much around Redskins Park but right now it looks like Keenan Robinson, Darryl Sharpton, and Akeem Jordan will fight it out for the starting job at Jack linebacker. It could end up being done by committee with Sharpton and Jordan playing on first- and second-down packages and Robinson coming in for nickel situations.

This just in–the draft doesn’t always get it right. Perhaps you could have asked the same thing about Richard Sherman a few years ago after he was drafted in the fifth round; a lot of CB’s went before he did, too. Not that Breeland is going to be as good as Sherman. But show me a draft where the corner who had the best career was taken first, the second best second, and so on. Breeland’s draft stock dropped due to him being a step slow in the 40 and because many think he should have stayed in school for another year. He has room to get better (thus the discussion of “ceiling”). We will see how it turns out.

Danielle is referring to two undrafted free agent receivers the Redskins signed. I think Hoffman, who is listed at 6-4, has a shot. Tarik wrote about him the other day and he is taking the fact that he wasn’t drafted as a challenge. But he has a lot to learn, especially when it comes to getting off the line when he’s being jammed. We’ll follow his progress during the rest of the offseason and in training camp. Hughes seems to be more of a long shot. I didn’t see him do much good or bad during the minicamp but we didn’t get that long to look at them. Right now I’d say that Hughes’ best shot is the practice squad this year.

Good question. It’s too soon to tell. The way I see it setting up, I think that Tyler Polumbus is the more vulnerable starter so that could clear a path for Moses. But Long might be a bit more pro ready, especially that guard is nominally an easier position for a rookie to learn. I’ll give the edge to Long while allowing for the possibility that Moses could come on strong in training camp and beat out Polumbus while Chris Chester hangs on at right guard.

I hate to pull out the “too soon to tell” card for a second straight response but that’s the case here. We won’t know about tackling at least until we see them in pads this summer and probably not until we see a few games. The pass rush should be better with additions of Jason Hatcher and Trent Murphy and the added emphasis on coaching pass rush techniques. It’s not hard to imagine them being in the top 10 in the NFL in sacks but the proof will be when they get out there on the field.

  1. Newsuit - May 21, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    I think Breeland could start ahead of Amerson. Breeland excels in man coverage and is extremely physical. I was never sold on Amerson and many fans said he improved over the course of the season. I didn’t see it. I think Breeland has what it takes to man one of the corner spots along Hall while Amerson and Porter should compete for nickel. I didn’t like Amerson at nickel last year either but I hope he improves.

    • internetcareer - May 21, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      its absolutely impossible for you to give judgement on Amerson’s ability this season based upon intermittent fill in duty last season in a system that now appears to have been a hodgepodge of confusion.

      There is no way to evaluate Amerson except to start him in this system, and watching how he plays. After 4 or 5 games of STARTING fulltime there will be a body of work and it will be easy to say one way or the other what has occurred….but last year he was a part time rookie on a bad team with no pass rush. nuff said.

      • Rich Tandler - May 21, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        Oh? On what planet would a cornerback playing 694 out of a shade over 1,000 defensive snaps (just under 70%) be considered “intermittent fill in duty”? Sounds like a pretty solid basis for evaluation to me.

        Amerson has plenty of tape to evaluate. He has some work to do, no question, and he will finish his education as a starter this year.

        > >

        • internetcareer - May 21, 2014 at 5:51 PM

          Rick…the answer to your question is ON THIS PLANET…where rookie seasons are exactly that. Apparently you and your friend believe that a rookie season as a part timer can be projected into the future as a body of work. I happen to not think so and I can site numerous examples of success OR failure after people attempted to project the future based on a rookie season.

          And out of those 694 snaps, you probably haven’t done this, but you would have to cut that into half and evaluate the 1st half learning curve and compare it to the 2nd half of those snaps. But I figure you just like looking up figures and then putting them out there as some sort of proof. So, I will stand by my assertion that those first 4-5 games will be what it takes to judge him.

        • Rich Tandler - May 21, 2014 at 6:00 PM

          Well, you just don’t learn. Can’t disagree without being a jerk. Sorry, you’re not welcome here any more. Banned.

        • scmargenau - May 22, 2014 at 8:16 AM

          How was he being a jerk? That’s ridiculous

        • Rich Tandler - May 22, 2014 at 8:18 AM

          Follow his comments back a ways, you’ll see.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 23, 2014 at 3:30 PM

          “And out of those 694 snaps, you probably haven’t done this, but you would have to cut that into half and evaluate the 1st half learning curve and compare it to the 2nd half of those snaps. ”

          I know the guy is now banned and can’t reply but can anyone make sense of this comment? The learning curve happens in training camp and practice. You don’t put a player on a field in the NFL to overcome a learning curve because you wouldn’t be coaching for very long.

          Btw – I recall this guy was also a jerk on redskins.com.

      • Newsuit - May 21, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        Thanks for the backup Rich. Not only is there sufficient professional tape to evaluate Amerson as Rich pointed out, but there is also college tape. Amerson’s last year before coming out was poor. He played a lot like he played this past year with the skins biting on double moves and getting beat in man coverage. He is a solid zone corner but his man skills are questionable. The reason he is better at zone is because he takes chances and goes for the big play instead of being a consistent defender. Zone allows him to play this way with less risk whereas his deficiencies are blatant in man coverage responsibilities. For you to give Amerson a pass because of the lack of pass rush is ridiculous why not resign Wilson after a very subpar year and blame the lack of pass rush? Amerson has a long way to go and Breeland looks like he has a very good chance to beat him out.

        • Rich Tandler - May 21, 2014 at 2:25 PM

          Happy to add some facts to the discussion. But let me clarify, I think that there is virtually zero chance that Breeland starts over Amerson or Tracy Porter this year. He has a lot to learn.

          > >

        • kenlinkins - May 21, 2014 at 3:38 PM

          I would love to see Breeland develop into a top CB so the Redskins could move Amerson to Safety. While Amerson did get better as the year went on, early on he sometimes looked stunned/shocked at what was happening around him. He could become a better than Avg CB, but I still think he is better suited for safety as he seems to play better with everything in front of him. If Breeland is starting in 2014 it would most likely mean something had gone very wrong. We will just have to wait and see when Breeland gets his “Welcome to the NFL moment” in the preseason and see how he reacts to it. Preseason will be very fun to watch this year.

        • thirdistheworrd - May 22, 2014 at 11:13 AM

          The interesting thing about Amerson is that while he did sometimes look/play like a bewildered rookie, he was almost never thrown at– or at least vastly less than Wilson or Hall. If someone has some PFF stats to throw at me to the contrary, that’s fine; it was just my perception that he was, by and large, shutting his receivers down.

          I don’t see any reason why Amerson couldn’t become a pro-Bowl caliber CB given his size, speed, and skillset. I think his biggest problem, apart from just being a rookie playing on a terrible defense, is his D Hall style of jumping routes and/or allowing receivers to play with too much cushion. Hall has done too much to be hated on anymore, but I think we all know there are some serious flaws in his game. If Amerson can get those tendencies coached out early, he should be great.

        • Rich Tandler - May 23, 2014 at 5:29 AM

          I was curious so I pulled up the PFF stats:

          Amerson was thrown at on 77 of 447 coverage snaps 17.2% Hall on 94 of 580, 16.2% Wilson on 85 of 524, 16.2%

          So, Amerson was thrown at slightly more often than Hall and Wilson.

          > >

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 23, 2014 at 3:17 PM

          Games like he had against Peyton Manning and Eric Decker disagree with your assessment. His man skills are due to bad coaching out of N.C. State. They misused him in his final year and again his ability to improve later in the season was apparent to most.

    • moneylover - May 21, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      I think he might take tracy porter spot simply cause tracy porter been injury prone and hes not reliable to play a full season. Amerson did improve as the season went along as I recall he saved us from losing against the chargers late in the fourth quarter when he broke up a touchdown pass ….what team or player was you watching he did good as a rookie thats why coach jay keeping him as the starter

      • thirdistheworrd - May 22, 2014 at 11:14 AM

        I may be wrong, but I’m pretty the plan is to start Amerson and Hall, with Porter at nickel. And if you were talking about Breeland, I don’t think he takes Tracy Porter’s spot because Tracy Porter is injury prone: he would take the spot if, knock on wood, Tracy Porter was injured– you don’t preemptively bench a starter to prevent injury, you play your starters while backups wait on the bench, just in case.

    • redskindave - May 21, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      I roll with internetcareer on that one. His flashes and ability to get to the ball at times have shown that he’s a potential star. He’s too young to be a playmaker with a shaky pass rush, and bad system like the 13′ campaign. Personally I feel more comfortable with him in 14′ but who knows whats going to happen

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 23, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      I would I love to wager you on this one. Amerson made very good strides later in the season. Coming from N.C. State, he did not learn how to press on WRs or make open field tackles. However, he managed both deficiencies very well in the NFL even without the proper coaching needed to prepare him to play with the elites. Amerson is a sure bet as a starter IMO now. Is he a shutdown corner? No! But i see a much higher ceiling from him after the strides he made last season.

      As for Breeland, he was reported in camp to be grabbing and holding WRs that won’t every play in the NFL. Somehow that translated to him being physical. However, in today’s passing NFL; that type of physicality won’t keep you on the field for long.

      I hope Breeland is as good as you feel he is. Because if you are right we have two promising young CBs to watch. I’m still holding out hope form Minnifield. That is a kid with a physical presense we can use if he stays health and improves his game.

      • Newsuit - May 23, 2014 at 4:22 PM

        I totally agree Amerson has potential. What I like about Amerson is he does have very good ball skills this may be his best asset. He has good size and speed as well. What I am trying to point out is Breeland has much better technique and skill in man coverage than Amerson. So as far as that skill goes I would say he is much farther ahead than Amerson. I think what was said out of camp was Breelands type of play was so physical that a defensive coach would call it great play while a offensive coach would complain. I personally prefer that type of corner play so I will admit I have bias for Breeland. He played the same way in college the only question I see with Breeland is his lack of speed. In my opinion his recovery speed was adequate in college and may not be enough in the pros and that is a critical skill needed to play the way Breeland does. I shouldn’t say Amerson didn’t improve at all but I think he still looks in the backfield too often and needs to build on his man skills. Therefore I make the assessment that Breeland could start ahead of him as both corners have a lot to prove.

  2. Stephfan - May 21, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    Brew land and amerson are our future cbs and on another note Wrs are looking a bit competitive this year.. I don’t think miss will make it.. Unless it goes Jackson garcion Andre moss grant and Hoffman

    • thirdistheworrd - May 21, 2014 at 3:38 PM

      I think Hoffman’s biggest competition will be Lance Lewis for a spot on the practice squad– a competition he should definitely win. Hoffman certainly has size and potential, but it would be a big mistake to carry six WR’s on the 53, as it’s easily our strongest/deepest group, and it would really compromise our depth at shallower positions like OL, S, and LB. I don’t think anyone wants to see Rambo cut after one year just so we can carry a barrel full backups for what could possibly be one of the best starting WR corps’ in the league.

      I also don’t think Hoffman will beat out Hankerson for a roster spot. Sure, Hankerson hasn’t developed into the player we had hoped, but he’s faster than Hoffman and barely an inch shorter. Maybe Hankerson starts out on the PUP list, but that’s still no reason to carry six receivers on the roster over (Gettis/LeRibeus/Compton/Rambo/Jenkins/another vet we pick up later in the summer) Obviously Gruden loves Grant, but he could be a practice squad candidate as well, depending on how the rest of the roster shakes out. The bottom line is that we shouldn’t compromise the entire team just because we like the talent of this player or that player

      • Rich Tandler - May 21, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        Just FYI, Lance Lewis isn’t on the Redskins’ roster. He was released late last season and signed with the Cowboys. I don’t see him on their roster now, perhaps he’s a free agent.

      • kenlinkins - May 21, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        I agree, Hankerson will get first try over Hoffman, Grant and Lewis but if I were Hankerson I would not allow grass to grow under my feet. If he doesn’t start helping RG3 by getting free when Jackson or Garson are double teamed OR in a 4 WR set, he will not last long on the 53 man roster. Hankerson was tagged as talent waiting to happen when he was drafted, well, the wait could be over if Hoffman or Grant show something special in the preseason (Special Teams anyone?). Anyone hear any news of how Hankerson is doing on his rehab? Will he be ready for Training camp or start on the PUP list (which could be the kiss of death if some of the scouting reports are right about Grant or Hoffman).

  3. Chris - May 21, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    Amerson DEFINITELY improved last year. He is undoubtedly our 2nd corner behind Hall with Porter playing Nickel. Amerson showed his playmaking ability last year and isn’t afraid to tackle. No none will beat him out in camp. Especially a rookie.

    • moneylover - May 21, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      You the only person seen what I seen from amerson hes only going to get better this is year 2 under hasslet system this year he aint gotta think so much he can just react and make plays

    • koolrepetoire - May 25, 2014 at 6:53 AM

      Thank you man. You and Rich see what I see regarding Amerson.

  4. internetcareer - May 21, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    don’t think that linebacker by committee or rotating defensive linemen is a bad thing. Last year, Seattle did not have even one single pass rusher in double digits. Everything in the front 7 was pretty much done with substitutions especially on that defensive line. Bunch of guys with moderate amount of sacks like between 5-8 and their middle linebacker had no more tackles than Perry Riley.

    So if they use 3 linebackers to play one position I don’t think that is a bad thing as long as Ryan Clark and Perry Riley are out there to lead and put everyone in the right position.

  5. cowboyhater - May 21, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    I heard there is a CB out of Hampton (6’3″?) who has impressed at the rookie minicamp?….. As for who will start, or who will not, you can never answer that question until these kids practice, and compete with the big boys. There will always be the training camp underdog who overachieves that will get the skins fans excited. As Rich has said, it’s a wait and see…

    • moneylover - May 21, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      I think his name is courtney bridget redskins sign him they said hes really good he very underrated and very similar to richard simlar they said they wanna see him in training camp and preseason if he play well I wouldnt be surprise if he get some playing time I heard he did good in mini camp the coaches feel like they got another steal

  6. moneylover - May 21, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    I think akeem jordan will have the best chance to win the spot hes a very smart player but overall all these guys are good its just who gonna pickup jim hasslet system the fastest to be ready for the season

    • koolrepetoire - May 25, 2014 at 6:56 AM

      I’m pulling for Keenan, he knows the system, plus he’s 6’3 240, is fast, can cover, and catch better than all of our ILB’s.

  7. moneylover - May 21, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    The only thing breeland need to work on is not grabbing the wide receiver jersey when he feels he cant keep up jay gruden said they gotta wait until they get the refs in training camp to see if its a flag or if he can get away wit it …but when breeland is in man to man at the line thats when hes a beast cause he plays physical

    • snyper94z28 - May 23, 2014 at 2:18 AM

      Seattle plays 4-3, we have 34 defense. Lb’s are asked to do diff things in 34. Also seattle played tons of cover 3 and 4 zone.
      And on a side note, it would be easier to understand your post if you used punctuation, like a period at the end of the sentences. Not trying to be mean or anything, it was just difficult to read your post.

  8. Eric - May 21, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    Thanks for answering my question about the the tackling and pass rush. The thing g to me is I truly believe if we can do better In those areas our back end can be a lot better. Secondary tackling is a must has to improve to get back to elite Defense. Can’t wait to see these guys get after it this year the whole team.

  9. ET - May 21, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    I’m kind of excited for the ILB competition. I’m not sure who has the upper hand at this point, but Keenan Robinson’s teammates and coaches sure have a lot of nice things to say about him. (Fingers crossed for no more torn pectorals.)

  10. skinsdawg - May 22, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    I have no idea who wins the Jak Backer starting spot- though I feel it will come down to committee work most likely. It also depends on whether or not Keenan R can get, and stay healthy. I think he’s got talent. I’m not as worried about that spot as others, because you have 3 other competant backers in there- with studs on the outside. :lus- I like what we hear about Murph. Heck- I’d be really interested to c if Murph can run some at the Jack- though he’s an edge player. Still- that speed, coupled with the outside guys…… that could be interesting- if he could play there. ??

    I like Ryan Grant and Cody Hoffman. Going on a limb here…. My bet is Grant makes the team- and Hoffman starts out on the P-Squad. I like the starting 3- with Grant, Hankerson, and maybe 1 more. I love Moss, but IMHO, time to move on. Moss and Aldrick Robinson out.

    Not sure yet about the corners, but there is PLENTY of film and actual game action to evaluate where Amerson is right now. Ridiculous to even think there’s not. With that said, sure- we still don’t know. It may take more time to determine whether or not he can be the man. But he seems to be on his way. I like Breeland as the developmental player, and it looks like he is very talented- if not a speed merchant. I think we are in MUCH better shape now, than last year, in the def backfield. LBs are fine. WR a HUGE strength now. My real problem is O-Line. Terrible, and I’m not convinced that it won’t still be terrible. JMHO

  11. snyper94z28 - May 23, 2014 at 2:01 AM

    I think the biggest improvement comes on defensive style change to a 1 gap 34 defense. See wade phillips, and both ryan brothers. And my question woild have been whats the chance we have rookie right side offensive line? I think by game 6 we have williams, louvao, cory L, long, moses.

  12. shermanp79 - May 23, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    I’m more interested in guys cut by teams at the end of the summer. Look at San Fran as example, they Draft well and a lot, all those guys won’t be able to fit. I think it’s another area to watch and grab a guy or two. There may be some vets cut but I don’t think they go that route for marginal upgrade, it’s more about young guys and building for the future. Something we haven’t been able to say about this teams approach over the last 20 years.

    • alextwrs - May 23, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      Good point Sherman, I like that idea. Anytime skins can pickup size w a 6’3 cb makes my day.

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