New Redskins GM Scot McCloughan aimed to improve nearly every position through the draft or via free agency. How has he done? Over the next couple of weeks, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine and rate each group on the team. The ratings will be based on the quality of the players as compared to the rest of the league and, in particular, the division.
We’ll use a scale of 1 to 10. To receive a 10, a position group would need Pro-Bowl caliber starters and solid backups. A rating of 1 means the starters are aging and ineffective and there are no promising reserves in the pipeline.
Starters: Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland.
Reserves: DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson and Tevin Mitchel.
Tandler: This unit was a weak link last year. Hall missed the last 13 games with an Achilles injury, Amerson struggled through a sophomore slump, Breeland played well at times and like an unpolished rookie at times, Tracy Porter, who was supposed to be the nickel back, missed most of the season with injuries, and below replacement level players like E. J. Biggers were forced into playing important snaps. The corners should be better in 2015. Culliver came over from the 49ers as a free agent and he is an instant, major upgrade. It appears that Hall’s rehab is going well enough to think that he will be back for Week 1. Breeland will have another offseason of learning under his belt and the word is that the talented Amerson is taking his struggles last year to heart and taking preparation more seriously. This all sounds good but a lot of things sound good in June but then don’t work out when the games start counting. Put me down for cautious optimism that the cornerbacks will be less of a liability this year but I need to see a lot more before believing that they will be a strength. Rating: 4.
El-Bashir: I’m not concerned about Culliver or Breeland. As long as they avoid trouble off the field, I’m confident they’ll deliver on it. Both bring a much-needed edge to the secondary and possess the potential to be a solid duo. I do, however, have concerns about the others. Hall, if healthy, will bring some playmaking ability and veteran calm. But when will he be 100-percent recovered from a twice-torn Achilles? During the first OTA session, when the 31-year-old did some light individual drill work, things seemed to be right on schedule. Hall did less work the next two weeks, however. Maybe it's just part of the plan, as Jay Gruden said. But I'll be curious to see what, if anything, Hall does this week in veteran minicamp. As for Amerson, he’s the No. 3 corner right now and is coming off a sophomore season in which he allowed a league-worst 10 passing touchdowns in his coverage, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Gruden says he’s been “very impressed” with Amerson this offseason, so perhaps he’s in the process of regaining his focus and, more important, his confidence. We’ll see, I guess. It’s too early to say if Mitchel, a sixth round pick this year, will make an immediate impact, or if any of the hopefuls, like Justin Rogers or Trey Wolfe can put pressure on those ahead of them. Let’s be honest here. After the Redskins’ defense surrendered a whopping 35 passing touchdowns—the most in the NFL in 2014—this group probably deserved a rating of 1 or 2. But I’m an optimist, and I think the addition of Culliver (as well as the tutelage of Perry Fewell) will help shore things up a bit. But, like Tandler, I need to see it before I get excited. Rating: 5.