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Need to Know: Can the Redskins get a starting safety in the draft?

Feb 21, 2015, 4:54 AM EDT


INDIANAPOLIS—Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 21, 17 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

While I’m here at the NFL Combine this week, I’m going to change it up a bit. I’m going to pose the question each morning centered around the draft and the position group that will be talking to the media on that day. You can find the daily schedule here. Up today, the defensive line.

Can the Redskins find a 2015 starting safety in the draft?

The Redskins have a need at safety.

Yes, that line was copied and pasted from each of the last half dozen or so offseasons.

It seems that the Redskins are always in search of a long-term solution at safety. Or perhaps they haven’t been searching for a permanent answer, generally content to patch the position with veterans who are past their primes (Ryan Clark, O.J. Atogwe) or limited (Reed Doughty) or injury/suspension prone (Brandon Meriweather).

With Clark announcing his retirement and Meriweather a free agent, the Redskins have the “help wanted” sign up at post safety positions. With Scot McCloughan committed to building through the draft, the patch jobs at safety will eventually come to an end. But will it end this year?

Both McCloughan and Jay Gruden said that the Redskins will take the best available player in the draft. The odds of finding two safeties who can start immediately are slim even if you are drafting for need. Finding two who happen to be the best available player on the board when your pick comes up is nearly impossible.

They will have to either find at least on safety in free agency or hand the job to Phillip Thomas. The 2013 fourth-round pick is better suited to strong safety so if they do plug him in they would be looking for someone to play free.

According to Mike Mayock of the NFL Network and other draft analysts this is a particularly weak class of safeties. That doesn’t mean that the Redskins won’t be able to find one; just because draft analysts aren’t impressed doesn’t mean that there isn’t a fit for the Redskins.

The consensus top safety in the draft is Landon Collins of Alabama. However, he probably isn’t good enough to be the best available player with the fifth pick but he will be gone long before the Redskins’ second-round pick rolls around.

Among the safeties the Redskins might look like in the second or third rounds are Cody Prewitt of Ole Miss, Chris Hackett of TCU, and Derron Smith of Fresno State.

It will be interesting to see how McCloughan handles this situation. He doesn’t want to keep the Redskins on their habit of filling holes with free agents. But there is no guarantee that a even a second- or third-round pick will be ready to start the season opener. They will have to have a Plan B in place and that probably means a free agent signing of some sort. I doubt we’ll see a big-money, long term deal; rather, it looks like another patch until a younger player can be developed.


—It’s been 55 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 204 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 17; Redskins offseason workouts start 58; 2015 NFL Draft 68

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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  1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Feb 21, 2015 at 7:13 AM

    My ideal first round: We pick up a 2nd round pick for trading back and draft Ereck Flowers. He’s only 20 years old…potential superstar tackle.

    As for safety, we need someone who can cover. Maybe Gerod Holliman in the 2nd (not a sure tackler, but the best coverage safety out there).

    Otherwise, the song remains the same: another band-aid.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 21, 2015 at 9:51 PM

      Flowers played Horrible in the ALL STAR GAME

      • Joe Greene - Feb 22, 2015 at 12:12 AM

        Who cares? It’s a freaking all-star game, not a real game with real football rules.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 22, 2015 at 9:12 PM

          What are you talking about? If the ALL STAR GAMES dont matter than why are the GM and scouts their. The games are top talent against top talent They all are playing hard to improve their Draft status. Its not like the pro bowl. .

  2. bk70 - Feb 21, 2015 at 7:28 AM

    Rich, Do you believe the Skins will resign Duke Ihenacho and give him a shot at FS?
    Also, Da”Mon Cromartie_Smith is there with a solid chance.

    As far as the draft, I like Cody Prewitt, Anthony Harris of Virginia and Jaquiski Tartt of Samford. Best player
    available into 3rd round may be switch hitting SS or FS during collegian career.

    • kenlinkins - Feb 21, 2015 at 8:22 AM

      You make a good point, there may be a player or two already in the mix. If the new DC stops using that Combo Safety system, maybe there is a real SS or FS close by that the Redskins could sign at a good price. Sign them to the 90 man roster and see what they can do with a new system and DC (and DB coach).

    • mr.moneylover - Feb 21, 2015 at 8:41 AM

      Omg finally somebody see it the same way I do….they got starting safties on the roster and including akeem davis to the ones you already named jay gruden like akeem davis so much he was gonna be our starting saftey in the beginning of last year and we got DE Frank kearse he got a sack everytime he got a chance to play…jay gruden trust jim haslet with the defense and fail and jay gruden was giving his QBs most of his time this year he dont gotta do that more cause he hired a QB coach….we should see some improvement this year because players are not given the job you gotta earn it

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 21, 2015 at 2:41 PM

      Maybe, if McC has a different opinion of him than than Allen and Gruden. He’s JAG, maybe even less than on.

      I’ll take a closer look at him if they bring him back.

    • Joe Greene - Feb 21, 2015 at 3:32 PM

      FS? You want Ihenacho, who was a BAD SS for the Broncos, to get a shot at FS? Why?

  3. kenlinkins - Feb 21, 2015 at 8:18 AM

    The Redskins may have to look at CB’s in the 2015 draft to find a FS type in the later rounds. There are many bigger CB’s at small schools who played CB out of need who could be moved to FS in the NFL (cover guys with speed). Also, a guy like Amerson could be moved to FS if the Redskins draft a CB early. If the Redskins draft Collins with the 5th pick (or even if they trade back and pick Collins) they are then committed to solving both SS and FS in 2015. The change to look for is the new DC playing SS as a SS and FS as a FS and not this combo stuff we saw out of the last DC. I understand that many Redskins fans want a O-Line pick first, and the Redskins do require younger D-Line, but IMO the Redskins MUST fix that BIG hole on the back side of the defense and Collins would be a great start (and IMO he is worth the 5th pick in the draft, but I am not 100% he will be the BPA, that might be Winston and I bet the blog would light up big time if the Redskins draft a QB). If the Redskins trade back: Collins and then Collins again (SS and CB) move Amerson to FS, Thomas to nick back, then go pick all the O-Line and DT you want with the other 6 picks.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 21, 2015 at 9:59 PM

      Thomas would get killed at. Nickel he is a Safety not a CB I do like signing a bigger CB to play Safety or Lippet.

  4. ET - Feb 21, 2015 at 8:57 AM

    I’m guessing McC & Co. use some free agency resources on a decent safety like Gilchrist, and pursue a safety pick in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th round. Maybe Prewitt or the kid from Samford?

    We’ll see if Thomas or Davis can step up while the young draft pick gets up to speed.

  5. captblood3000 - Feb 21, 2015 at 9:53 AM

    Two problems with moving Amerson to free safety. His preparation at cornerback hasn’t been as good as Breeland’s, and preparing as a free safety is if anything more demanding. Amerson was projected as a free safety by many scouts, but he would be on a rookie learning curve. Secondly, moving him creates a hole at cornerback, so even if Hall is 100% to start the season, who plays nickel?

    Whenever you hear the words “weak class at” and you have a front office that will take “the best player available”, the chances of your team taking a player at that position are diminished. It’s the law of supply and demand at work. Other teams that draft more for need will exhaust the pool of players at that position.

    Thus drafting a college cornerback as your free safety of the future makes sense. But he will also be on a learning curve, so you may look to sign another veteran free agent to give him time to learn.

  6. troylok - Feb 21, 2015 at 9:57 AM

    I think the team could move Amerson to safety and pick up a developmental corner (draft has more corners with potential) late in the draft. In that scenario they could resign Hall and hope like heck that he is all of the way back by the beginning of next season. They could re-sign Biggers, who can play both corner and safety.

    • kenlinkins - Feb 21, 2015 at 10:16 AM

      I am not sure that Hall can make it back from his injury to ever play CB again but I would like to see if he can play FS (a real FS, not this combo FS/SS junk). Biggers is a idea a FS but I would have to see him in action as he made so many mistakes the last 2 years that I do not trust him on the field for someone with the time of field he has had.

    • ET - Feb 21, 2015 at 10:17 AM

      No more EJ Biggers! That guy has got to go. He’s ok as a emergency backup, but he’s seen way too much field time in the past two years. When he’s on the field, it’s like waving a flag at the opposing OC.

      • skins4lyfe - Feb 21, 2015 at 12:11 PM

        The ideal situation for me would be to pick up the f.a. safety from Seattle who Drafted by Scott and allow him Thomas and Davis as our projected starters. The kid from Seattle is still young and has played behind a dominant defense and learned the game. Think of cam chancellor with a bigger chip on his shoulder. Bring i thurmund from the giants who’ll was also drafted by Scott to compete with amerson for the starting cb position. These 2 signings wont break the bank at all the kid from Seattle wants to play and knows that the l.o.b. wont give him that chance he hasn’t played much so signing him should be cheap. Thurmond was hurt for the giants most of his first year with the giants but was coached and hand-picked by Perry resell. He is two years from being a vital part of the super bowl victory. If they can sign both players for 3-4 million a year combi

  7. abanig - Feb 21, 2015 at 11:50 AM

    Redskins should sign a stop gap FS and draft a guy in the 3rd round to develop for a few years behind him, like they’re doing with Phillip Thomas.

    • skins4lyfe - Feb 21, 2015 at 12:14 PM

      Combined the attention could be switched to the d and o line. The later rounds now can be dedicated to drafting developmental players for our future.

      • skins4lyfe - Feb 21, 2015 at 12:19 PM

        Abanig I think we are on the same page. I understand they want to develop thru the draft and not in f.a. but this is the year that one of our strong need position can be filled with Scott’s guys. There are quality young CB f.a. this year that wont break the bank to get one or two. Draft this year for the future and develop.

  8. gurnblanstonreturns - Feb 21, 2015 at 1:54 PM

    Rounds 1-3: Fat boys!
    Rounds 4-7: Guys who can cover kicks.

    Trading down from #5 once or even twice would be so sweet!

    • bangkokben - Feb 21, 2015 at 4:27 PM

      Why would trading down be good? The chance for getting an impact player significantly decreases. How is that working out for the Rams? They haven’t even sniffed at .500.

      • ET - Feb 21, 2015 at 6:17 PM

        While the odds are somewhat better, a first round pick is no guarantee of success or impact.

        See the Skins ’94 draft, for example—Heath Schuler, the 3rd overall pick, was a complete bust, while Gus Frerotte (pick 197) went on to have a respectable career. That 3rd pick still makes me mad.

        • bangkokben - Feb 21, 2015 at 6:56 PM

          That was over 20 years ago. Let’s look at the 2011 draft when we could have had J.J. Watt like most of the mocks predicted. We didn’t bomb with Kerrigan and Jarvis Jenkins but also could’ve had Robert Quinn. Both Watt and Quinn are impact players. Kerrigan may be our best defender but can’t change a game like either Watt or Quinn. You can also look at Keim’s post on trading out of the top five. A rather mixed bag. At best you can hope for two solids instead of one great but more often end up with one good.

        • kenlinkins - Feb 21, 2015 at 9:10 PM

          With the state of the roster, getting Two good would be a great help. This team needs better players in large numbers!

      • Joe Greene - Feb 22, 2015 at 12:14 AM

        A healthy Sam Bradford would have seen the Rams sniffing the playoffs. They’ve gotten 5-6 legit players for a bad QB in one fell swoope. I’ll take that every time, especially in a draft that has 2-3 superstars and none that will be there at 5 overall.

        • bangkokben - Feb 23, 2015 at 10:24 AM

          Funny how Bradford’s injuries are okay with you. Bradford has done nothing close to Griffin’s succes yet been injured more often, more serious, and has proven he can’t stay healthy. Yet somehow he’d have the Rams sniffing the playoffs. Good luck with that one. Sure the Rams are a quarterback away from success, but to assume Bradford is that guy is wishful thinking.

  9. kenlinkins - Feb 21, 2015 at 7:01 PM

    Rich: How could the Mike Shanahan interview help him land another head coaching job? Could how any GM or Owner trust him? Is he bitter that he has not been hired by another team? (the time of the interview comes after all the head coaching jobs are filled). I just do not see the up side for Coach Shanahan doing that interview even if everything he said is true (which I do not believe). Will we see Mike Shanahan as a head coach again in the NFL?

    • Joe Greene - Feb 22, 2015 at 12:15 AM

      Everybody knows that Snyder is a meddlesome toolbag. Shanny’s interview won’t harm him at all on future jobs if he wants one. Archives

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