Washington Football

Washington Football

After each ranking the Redskins' position groups on a list that went from worst to best, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will now spend the rest of the week and weekend delving deeper into every spot on the roster.

Next up is one that looks pretty set and solid: Safety.

Currently on the depth chart: Landon Collins, Sean Davis, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke, Kamren Curl

Who's in charge?: Chris Harris (six years of NFL experience, most recently worked with the Chargers from 2016 to 2019 in a variety of roles)

Quick overview

Besides quarterback, there may not be a more cut and dried place on this roster than safety.

Landon Collins and Sean Davis are the starters. Deshazor Everett and Troy Apke are (most likely) the backups. The only question is whether 2020 draft pick Kamren Curl can unseat one of those two.

Just because there's a lack of drama, though, doesn't mean there's a lack of things to bring up. So, let's bring some things up.



Pete's notes

*There are few players I'm more interested in seeing under this new coaching staff than Collins. While Collins definitely helps in ways that don't get much shine -- like filling holes in the running game -- the Redskins aren't paying him to be a sneaky contributor. They're paying him to force game-changing turnovers and consistently thwart opposing offenses. Those were things he didn't do enough of in his first campaign with the franchise. He should now be used to his new surroundings and teammates, though, and with Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio in charge, he should find himself in more advantageous situations as well. Let's see if the three-time Pro Bowler can make it a four spot in 2020.

*With all that said, if Collins doesn't star, then some chatter about his contract will inevitably start happening. His cap hit is going to jump more than $10 million this year, and it's only going to go up after that. I was on record at the time of being fine with the amount of money the team gave him last offseason, because he was a young yet proven defender at a position that's given the organization so much trouble. And I still think it's going to work out in the end. But if 16 more matchups go by and Collins' impact is again only semi-noticeable, the doubters are going to start yapping. 

*Am I optimistic about Davis? Sure. But I was also optimistic about (and these names are in no particular order) Jeron Johnson, David Bruton, OJ Atogwe, Duke Ihenacho, DJ Swearinger, Dashon Goldson, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Brandon Meriweather, Madieu Williams and Ryan Clark. A ton of safeties have rolled through these parts before, and all were looked at as viable solutions. None were actually viable solutions, however. Hopefully Davis can break that trend, but it's a hell of a trend to try and break.

*I think Apke's ceiling with the Redskins will be as a special teamer. Ideally, would a 2018 fourth-rounder turn into more? Sure. At the very least, you'd like him to be someone you could trust more on defense. He can still become that, too. But even if he does top out as a gunner and kick coverage guy, he can still be a useful piece in Washington. During his appearance on a recent Redskins Talk podcast episode, Tress Way shouted Apke out for his superb work in those areas last season.


JP's notes

* I've been bullish on Sean Davis since Washington signed him and I'm not stopping now. The former Terp missed nearly all of the 2019 season, but the second-round pick by the Steelers in 2016 only missed one game his first three years in the NFL. His best season came in 2017 when he registered 90+ tackles, three INTs and a sack. He's only 26, he's 6-foot-1 and has elite speed. He's big and fast and can deliver big hits. Not everything is great -- there are legit questions about missed tackles when Davis at times goes for big hits -- but this is a player on a one-year prove-it deal looking to get paid. Jack Del Rio won't tolerate poor tackling. 


* Del Rio's biggest impact might come with the linebackers, but don't sleep on the new defensive coordinator getting tough on the safety group in general. Last month, Del Rio explained that the Redskins must cut down on giving up big plays, and while plenty of defenders are at fault when the offense does break off chunk yardage, safeties must make tackles to stop the bleeding. "We will work hard at that in terms of mentally being tough and physically being able to tackle people. Typically, for me, when you look at defenses around the league when you are giving up explosive plays and getting hit with big chunk plays and giving up a lot of those, then you are typically not going to have a good unit. How do you minimize that? It really comes down to leverage and tackling."

* In his second NFL season, Collins logged four sacks, grabbed five interceptions and made 125 tackles. That year he made the NFL's All-Pro team, the highest honor in the league. That was 2016. In the three years since, Collins has two interceptions and one sack total and has not gone over 120 tackles in a single season. What gives? Is Collins the star from New York in 2016? Or just the good safety that showed up in Washington last season? 

* Deshazor Everett is a very hard-working special teams player with some potential as a backup safety. The same can be said about Troy Apke. Not sure what that means for Kamren Curl, but it isn't good. A seventh-round rookie needs to be a special teams star to make the team, and he's already behind two players with that background. 

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