After a three-day crash course on the Redskins' playbook during rookie camp, David Amerson tweeted to his 12,000 followers, “I love the Redskins defensive scheme, perfect for me! #LetsEat.”
It remains to be seen how quickly Amerson can crack the starting lineup, but the second round pick is expected to eventually become a mainstay at cornerback in Washington, where the three likely starters in September – Josh Wilson, DeAngelo Hall and E.J. Biggers – will be unrestricted free agents after the 2013 season.
Amerson lined up mostly on the right side last weekend and, although the level of competition was nowhere near what he’ll face in OTAs and training camp, his size (6 foot 1, 205-pounds), length and speed (4.35-second 40) were evident as he smothered receivers.
“It was good, learning the scheme, getting familiar with the coaches,” he said. “It was real positive.”
But that’s not to say everything went perfectly.
“I messed up on one play,” he said when asked about a conversation he had with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett on the sideline. “And I know they watch film real hard, so I was already warning them about it. I got the calls confused and I played the wrong coverage. I just let him know and got it off my chest."
Indeed, the learning curve will be steep at one of the game's most complex positions. But that part can be coached. The aforementioned physical attributes and the natural instincts that made him one of college football's most dangerous corners can't.
Amerson led the nation with 13 interceptions as a sophomore in 2011, coming up one shy of the FBS single season record. His interception total declined to five last season as he admittedly put too much pressure on himself to duplicate his breakout campaign. As a result, he took too many gambles and got burned far too often. Shanahan, though, dismissed concerns about Amerson's struggles as a junior, saying, “We do a lot of things differently in our secondary. We think we can give him opportunities he hasn’t had in the past.”
NFLDraftScout’s Dan Brugler, like Shanahan, made note of Amerson’s drive and football intellect.
Amerson has rare height and length for the position and actually played primarily at safety in high school. He has the size and ballskills for the next level, but scouts are also impressed with his competitive drive to get better, showing vast improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons. And the coaching staff says there is no problem keeping Amerson hungry, as he is one of the top practice players each week. Could prove a fit in a press-based scheme. Highly aggressive defender who intercepted many of his passes reading the eyes of quarterbacks and jumping short routes.
NFL.com’s talent evaluators compare Amerson to the Chiefs’ Sean Smith, while also noting that some teams projected him as a safety because of a lack of elite agility.
Possesses size, physicality and athleticism to be a starting NFL defensive back. Very confident, attacks aggressively down hill, both in jumping routes, and in defending the run. Receiver-like ball skills allow him to high-point passes on jump balls and make quarterbacks pay for trying to fit a ball between levels of zone coverage. Also adjusts well to low and wide throws despite his size. Flashes agility. Will pop receivers to dislodge the ball and running backs coming to his side of the field. Wrap-up tackler, closes quickly to the ball when attacking receivers in off-coverage and against east-west runs. Works through receiver blocks in the run game with strong hands and quickness.
Here’s a highlight compilation from Amerson’s 13-pick campaign two seasons ago. As you’ll see, he’s pretty dangerous after making the interception, as well.
And here’s a balanced look at what Amerson does well and what he’s got to improve upon.
It might be a stretch to expect Amerson to be in the starting lineup against the Eagles. In fact, it would be surprising if he got into the starting lineup at any point during the first half of his rookie season. In 2014, though, Amerson figures to be a cornerstone player and could find himself lining up alongside fellow rookies Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo each Sunday.
“They are great athletes,” Amerson said of Thomas and Rambo. “Great players, great safeties. I’m glad they are on my team. I know they loved to get after the ball, and I did as well. We’re looking to bring that to the Redskins.”