To say that the Washington Redskins’ secondary was a liability in 2012 is an understatement. Ranked 30th in the NFL in pass defense in 2012, the Redskins needed to address the secondary in 2013. Washington pursued free agent cornerback Antoine Winfield early during the free agency period. The Redskins’ advances towards Winfield didn’t work, as he eventually signed with the Seattle Seahawks. Undaunted, the Redskins switched to Plan B in an effort to solidify their secondary.
Washington selected cornerback David Amerson (above, middle), as well as safeties Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo (above, left), in the 2013 draft. Amerson led the NCAA with 11 interceptions in 2011. Thomas led the NCAA with eight interceptions in 2012, returning three of them for touchdowns. Rambo recorded 235 tackles and 16 interceptions during his four year collegiate career at the University of Georgia.
The aforementioned statistics suggest that Amerson, Thomas, and Rambo will get every opportunity to earn playing time in 2013. However, they’re not on the team to provide depth. Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan will give the rookies every opportunity to win starting positions in the secondary. Cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson started for the Redskins at both cornerback positions in 2013. If Hall’s release (and subsequent resigning) didn’t put him on notice that a starting position is not guaranteed, then the selection of Amerson should serve as a reminder. Wilson was unspectacular at the other corner, routinely getting beaten by opposing wide receivers. His starting spot shouldn’t be guaranteed as well, as other cornerbacks on the roster like E.J. Biggers and Richard Crawford will stake their claim to start at cornerback as well.
The Redskins’ safety positions offer even more intrigue. Free safety Madieu Williams is no longer with the team. Strong safety Reed Doughty is the only returning starter, but his talents are more suited for special teams’ duty. Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson were added to become the Redskins’ starting safeties in 2012. Unfortunately, Meriweather and Jackson’s seasons were cut short by injury and suspension, respectively. It’ll be hard to determine what kind of impact they’ll have, considering the long layoff.
That bodes well for Thomas and Rambo, considering that Shanahan has a history of starting unheralded rookies if he believes they will contribute to the team. Redskins’ running back Alfred Morris is a perfect example, earning the starting running back position as a sixth round draft pick in 2012. If Amerson, Thomas, and Rambo can prove their worth during training camp, they won’t need to provide secondary depth. They might become starters on Opening Day 2013 against the Philadelphia Eagles, while 2012 starters Hall, Wilson, and Doughty provide depth behind the rookies. That might be a longshot, but it’s not inconceivable, considering the 2012 performance of the secondary.