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Redskins position preview: Strong safety


Redskins position preview: Strong safety

Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ depth chart now that the team’s offseason program has concluded.

Some battles are straightforward. Others could get complicated. This much, however, cannot be debated: A player is not on the 53-man roster until it's finalized Sept. 5.

So who’s in? And who’s in jeopardy? Up today …

Position: Strong safety.

On the roster: Jeron Johnson, Duke Ihenacho, Kyshoen Jarrett, Phillip Thomas and Akeem Davis.

Likely to make the 53: Johnson, Ihenacho and Jarrett.

Comment: Like the competition at right outside linebacker (which we discussed earlier this week here), the battle at strong safety will take center stage when the Redskins report to Richmond next month.

When the Redskins signed Johnson, a former Legion of Boom backup in Seattle, the immediate speculation was that he’d be Brandon Meriweather’s replacement. That’s still a possibility, but he’s going to face more competition for the job than originally anticipated.

During the majority of the offseason practices that were open to reporters, Ihenacho worked ahead of Johnson in 11 on 11 drills. Johnson, though, worked as the starter on June 17—the final day of mandatory minicamp.

Ihenacho, who was sidelined almost all of last season with a foot injury, has the edge in experience, having started 17 games for Denver in 2013 as the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl. Johnson, meanwhile, has just one start on his resume, but he did appear in 46 games as a backup to perennial Pro Bowler Kam Chancellor and was targeted early in free agency by new GM Scot McCloughan. It should also be noted that Johnson was a standout special teamer with the Seahawks and his tenure in Seattle overlapped with McCloughan’s.

Both Johnson and Ihenacho are going to make the roster. And both are versatile enough to see some snaps at free safety, as well. But only one of them will start Week 1 alongside hard-hitting free safety Dashon Goldson.

Battling for a job: Jarrett, Thomas and Davis.

Comment: Assuming Goldson, Johnson and Ihenacho will occupy three of the five safety spots on the 53-man roster, that means the others will find themselves in a tight competition for backup roles later this summer.

They’ll all need to be flexible enough to play both free and strong. And, just as important, they’ll need to be valuable on special teams (like Trenton Robinson and Akeem Davis were last season).

The backups at the end of last season were Robinson, a free safety, Thomas and Davis. Now you’ve got to add to the mix versatile rookie Kyshoen Jarrett, who impressed Coach Jay Gruden this offseason with his tenaciousness on special teams.

“Kyshoen has done an excellent job, man,” Gruden said. “He’s fast. He’s flying around. He’s making his presence known on special teams. I mentioned that the late-round picks are going to have to make their mark on special teams, and Kyshoen has done that.”


As for Thomas, defensive backs Coach Perry Fewell indicated that he'll need to show continued progress in Richmond after he appeared to do a fair amount of spectating from the sideline this offseason.

“He’s a knowledgeable guy,” Fewell said of the 2013 fourth rounder. “He has ability to break on the ball. He’s a mentally tough guy, because [when] we’re in the classroom and we throw a lot at him, he can regurgitate it. If we can get him to do that on the field, as quickly as he regurgitates it in the classroom, then we’ve got something.”

So, yeah, it's going to be a battle to watch.

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Get ready for the NFL Draft, and get ready for plenty of surprises

Get ready for the NFL Draft, and get ready for plenty of surprises

In some circles of modern culture, producing shocking commentary or content seems like the top goal. Being shocking gets clicks, gets attention, and in turn, gets dollars. 

On NFL Draft night, nothing should be shocking. Remember, last season there was no way Jonathan Allen would fall to the Redskins at 17. There was no way Kansas City would trade up for QB Patrick Maholmes. There was no way Chicago would trade up for Mitchell Trubisky. But all those things happened.

Sure, for months draft experts have expounded about what will happen, but the truth is, once the Browns are on the clock, nobody actually knows anything. 

With that in mind, let's look at a bunch of options that should not shock Redskins fans. 

  • Don't be shocked if Washington takes Minkah Fitzpatrick. They want him.
  • Don't be shocked if the Redskins draft Da'Ron Payne over Vita Vea. Washington loves Payne's potential to be a disruptor in the pass game and his incredible strength. 
  • Then again, don't be shocked if the 'Skins take Vita. Plenty of folks like him too. 
  • Don't be shocked if a team makes a move for Louisville QB Lamar Jackson. That could happen after the Redskins pick at 13, but Washington's pick could also prove important in the race for the former Heisman Trophy winner.
  • Derwin James will be on the 'Skins list, but don't be shocked if he goes off the board before the Redskins pick. 
  • Don't be shocked with a trade back, but remember that isn't the goal. With four QBs expected in the Top 10, an elite talent should make it to Washington at 13. If that happens, the Redskins should take advantage of adding a blue chip to their squad. 
  • Don't be shocked if Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds ends up wearing the Redskins draft hat. Also, don't be shocked if he plays some outside linebacker in the Washington 3-4 scheme, not just the inside LB role most project for Edmunds. 
  • Don't be shocked if a seemingly sure thing slips all the way to 13. Perhaps that's Quenton Nelson? Or Denzel Ward? Remember, there was no way Jon Allen was supposed to fall to 17 last year.

There are some things Redskins fans should be shocked by. 

  • Washington should not trade up. 
  • Washington should not draft a running back at 13 unless Saquon Barley is available. He won't be.
  • Washington should not draft a wide receiver at 13. 
  • If one of the top four QBs is available at 13, Washington should vigorously work the phones to move the pick. Move down a few spots and get Payne should be the exact plan in that scenario. Arizona at 15 needs a QB. 


Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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2018 NFL Draft Predictions: Where will the Edmunds brothers go?

2018 NFL Draft Predictions: Where will the Edmunds brothers go?

NBC Sports Washington’s four-part digital series ‘E-Boyz’ -- chronicling the illustrious past, decorated present and bright future of the Edmunds family -- is NOW LIVE. Check out a new episode daily, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Watch the fourth episode above and more here.

After this weekend's NFL Draft, the Edmunds family will go from having one son in the league to three. 

Trey is already on the Saints, but Tremaine and Terrell aren't pros just yet. So, when will they be taken? Here's a collection of predictions from NBC Sports Washington's NFL crew regarding the middle and youngest Edmunds brothers.


JP Finlay: The Niners at nine. John Lynch won't be able to get past Edmunds' combination of size and speed, and the elite potential of the just 19-year-old. Remember, too, San Francisco might not have Reuben Foster this fall.

Rich Tandler:  Eighth to the Bears. Physically, he is a double for Brian Urlacher and he worked out well enough for the Bears that he is headed for the Hall of Fame this year.

Mitch Tischler: No. 9 to the San Francisco 49ers.  We all know Kyle Shannahan loves him some offensive threats but getting an edge rusher that could tally double digit sacks and play both inside and out is going to be too tough to pass up at nine.

Pete Hailey: No. 10 and the Raiders. Jon Gruden won't let the dynamic Edmunds fall any further.


JP Finlay: Kansas City in Round 3. They could use additional depth in the secondary and that franchise knows value when they see it.

Mitch Tischler: The Steelers in Round 3. He fits their scheme, has an nfl body and measured very well at the Combine.

Pete Hailey: Round 3 to the Cardinals. Terrell can learn from Antoine Bethea then fill in for him once Bethea moves on.