With the busy portion of the free agency period completed, it’s time to start looking ahead to this week’s NFL draft and, specifically, needs the Redskins still have. In recent weeks, we’ve ranked them in order from least to most important.
Today, we’re revealing the position we think should be the Redskins’ top priority and the prospects who could be a fit.
Current depth chart: Brandon Meriweather, Ryan Clark, Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo, Jose Gumbs, Trenton Robinson and Akeem Davis.
Comment: Signing Ryan Clark to start alongside Brandon Meriweather might be good enough to get by next season.
But what if Clark, who turns 35 in October, begins to shows his age and can’t keep up as a first stringer? Or the injury prone Meriweather gets hurt again? As General Manager Bruce Allen said on Tuesday, in the NFL, you’re always an injury away from having a need.
It’s also important to note that both Clark and Meriweather are signed to one-year contracts.
Allen hopes Phillip Thomas, the team’s fourth round selection a year ago, will push for significant playing time in 2014. But Thomas missed his rookie season after suffering a Lisfranc injury and is a year behind from an experience standpoint.
Bacarri Rambo’s first year struggles were well documented, so there’s no need to rehash. Here’s what we won’t know until later this offseason: can he become a better tackler/special teams contributor in his second season? That’s the hope, with ‘hope’ being the operative word.
So, as you can see, there’s reason to be concerned about the starters and the primary backups in the short term. In the long term, there’s even more reason to be worried.
Although this week’s draft is not considered to be particularly strong at the position, given the Redskins’ need for a sooner-rather-than-later starter and for depth, it would not be a surprise to see them make a move on one of the top safeties available, perhaps as early as No. 34.
Four potential fits:
- Deone Bucannon, Washington State
With Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor likely off the board by the time the Redskins pick, Bucannon, a 6-1, 211-pound All American figures to be the third or fourth safety picked. From NFLdraftscout.com: “Bucannon's ideal size, hard-hitting style and fierce competitive nature are exactly what teams seek at safety. However, his limited flexibility and poor awareness and reaction time in coverage are measured shortcomings.” Projected as a second rounder who could slide to early third.
- Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
The 5 foot 11, 193-pounder was watched very closely—and interviewed extensively—by Redskins’ scouts at the Senior Bowl. Per NFL.com: “A very talented football player who could slide a round or two based on size, medical evaluations and attitude. Can contribute immediately at any safety position and positively affect the game if healthy and focused.” Expected to be taken early in the second round.
- Dezmen Southward, Wisconsin
The 6-0, 211-pounder was among the prospects to meet with the Redskins last month. Per NFLdraftscout: “His lack of range and ball skills in coverage will certainly force him into late-round territory, but he can win a roster spot as a special teams contributor, with future prospects of rotating in on defense with his solid run play.” A project who is expected to be taken in the fourth round.
- Tre Boston, North Carolina
The 6-0, 204-pound Boston also met with the Redskins last month in Ashburn. From NFL.com: “Statistical production might be his best resume builder. Uneven performer whose average athleticism, questionable physicality and immaturity will turn teams off. Will have to turn heads on special teams to have longevity as a backup.” Should be available in round 5 or later.