Shanahan has a history of finding value at pick No. 51
Since last Monday, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir has examined the Redskins’ depth chart and evaluated the team's top-10 needs in the upcoming draft, ranking them in order from least to most important. He has also taken a look at the prospects who could be a fit.
Current depth chart:
Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty, DeJon Gomes, Jordan Pugh, Jordan Bernstine, Devin Holland
The Redskins took a couple of big hits at safety before the 2012 season ever started.
Tanard Jackson was suspended for a year in August for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Brandon Meriweather, meantime, sustained the first in a string of knee injuries that ultimately limited him to two quarters of football.
It’s uncertain if Jackson has a future in Washington (or the NFL, for that matter) and it remains unclear when Meriweather will be ready. But this much is not up for debate: After yielding more passing touchdowns than all but one team last season, the Redskins must find a long-term solution at safety in this week’s draft.
In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them draft a pair of safeties.
If Meriweather returns healthy from serious injuries to both knees, he figures to start at strong safety in 2013.
But the pressing question is who will start at free safety? Madieu Williams, who struggled with consistency last season, is the only starter on either side of the ball not returning.
Reed Doughty can play both strong and free safety, but he’s best suited to backup duty. He’s also a standout on special teams.
DeJon Gomes, who also saw playing time at both safety positions, started last season as Meriweather’s replacement but couldn’t hold onto the starting job. The third-year player has shown flashes but must become a more consistent contributor to seize a bigger role.
Jordan Pugh appeared in 13 games as a reserve, lining up mostly at free safety. And Jordan Bernstine earned a spot on the 53-man roster, but suffered a devastating knee injury in New Orleans. He told CSNWashington.com last week that he’s aiming to be ready for training camp.
So, as you can see, there are significantly more questions than answers at this position. And with a deep pool of safeties available this week, the Redskins are expected to grab at least one (and quite possibly two) early on.
Three early-round prospect possibilities
- Phillip Thomas, Fresno State
At 6-1, 208-pounds, Thomas possesses good speed (4.57-second 40-yard dash) to go along with impressive agility and ball instincts. Led the nation in interceptions last season with right – three of which he returned for touchdowns.
- D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina
Makes up for his shorter-than-ideal frame (5-11, 208 pounds) with swagger, big hits and an edgy attitude. Recorded at total of five interceptions as a junior and senior, returning one for a touchdown.
- Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
Another aggressive hitter with good ball skills, Rambo (6-1, 211 pounds) finished with 16 career interceptions, taking back three for touchdowns. Was suspended twice as a Bulldog for reportedly failing drug tests.