Washington Redskins' Phillip Thomas Could Be Secondary's Next X-Factor

By Jason Bailey
Phillip Thomas
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington RedskinsTanard Jackson is an accomplished NFL strong safety. He is also very good at finding trouble and immersing himself in it. And he doesn’t usually engage in a discussion with himself over the projected long-term repercussions that will inevitably follow his miscreant conduct. Perhaps he should have, but the time for appealing to shoulder angels and demons for sound principle counseling has long since expired. Jackson now faces indefinite suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy — again. This is his fourth documented infraction, and it comes a mere two months after he was reinstated by the league, vying that he had learned his lesson. It would be safe to say Jackson has more than exhausted the league’s patience tolerance. He bombed multiple tests in 2012 for excessive marijuana use.

Jackson’s future with the NFL has all but been resolutely sealed in a pine box. His absence shaves an already substandard defensive backfield depth chart. But the NFL offers no mulligans for those who would venture to encroach on and manipulate its zero tolerance substance abuse policy. Nor should it.

Jackson is gone. I can’t tell you he won’t be reinstated — for the fifth time — but the chance of such an administrative gesture by the league is highly unlikely. Washington is perilously thin at safety, and the presence of seasoned outfielders Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark who remain entrenched on the club’s roster doesn’t exactly temper the legion of question marks concerning Washington’s secondary that needed to be addressed in the offseason.

I’m guessing it’s a good thing Washington’s scouting department pioneered extensive recruiting reports, aligned their sites on Fresno State All-American safety Phillip Thomas and pulled the trigger when they had the opportunity. It was a draft selection that didn’t misfire and will more than likely prove extremely profitable in the not-too-distant future.

Thomas will be an intimidating force in Washington’s secondary that will make signal callers balk before firing into the defensive backfield’s second level. Thomas packs dazzling ball skills, notable versatility, an incredible football IQ that rival quarterbacks will have to respect, ability to lay the lumber, exceptional closing ability regardless of where he lines up on the field and a mind-blowing mastery in diagnosing plays. The sophomore safety also exhibits decisive instincts, anticipates throws well and facilitates a natural ability to recognize and read routes. Scouts rave about Thomas’ game, and he has garnered comparisons to Eric Berry and Ed Reed.

Thomas could provide exigent coverage support for a Redskins backfield that has been devoid of such second-level security since ball-hawking demolition crew Sean Taylor passed in 2007. Securing a formidable secondary is just as paramount to the Redskins’ success this season as anchoring a punishing offensive line. Thomas will deliver.

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