Redskins

Quick Links

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Safety

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Safety

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts April 27. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

So far we’ve looked at the defensive line, outside linebackers, cornerbacks, and inside linebackers.  Today the focus turns to safeties.

2016 final game starters: Duke Ihenacho, Will Blackmon

Neither was the planned starter at the beginning of the year. DeAngelo Hall was put in injured reserve in Week 4 and David Bruton was put in IR and later released.

Departures: Ihenacho, Donte Whitner (unsigned)

The Redskins showed no interest in bringing back Ihenacho, who started 10 games. The word was that the coaches thought that he freelanced too much and he led the team in missed tackles with 15 even though nine defenders played more snaps.

Whitner started nine games after being signed off the street in Week 5, a statement on how desperate the Redskins were for any kind of help. The Redskins have not shown any interest in his return.

Projected 2017 starters: Su’a Cravens, D.J. Swearinger

The move of Cravens from nickel linebacker to safety will be among the most scrutinized changes during the offseason program, in training camp, and the regular season. Speed is the primary concern. He ran a 4.69 in the 40 last year at his pro day. Only three safeties at last year’s combine ran a slower time. Jay Gruden said recently that he is confident in Cravens’ play speed; we will see how it turns out.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 8.0

Swearinger will line up at free safety. He was primarily a hard-hitting strong safety in his first two years in the NFL. After joining the Cardinals late in the 2015 season he began to play some free. The Redskins apparently liked what they saw on film enough to sign Swearinger to a free-agent contract. His ability to play in space as the last line of defense also will be under the microscope this year.  

2017 reserves: DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett, Josh Evans

This is a shaky group. Hall will be 34 before the season ends and he has missed significant time due to injuries in each of the last three years. Blackmon played pretty well in six starts but he turns 33 around midseason.

MORE REDSKINS: Team announces preseason opponents

Evans is an interesting prospect. He was signed in Week 5, cut two weeks later, and then re-signed for the final game. Although he didn’t play a defensive snap in Washington he did start 36 games in three seasons in Jacksonville. Since Hall and Blackmon both converted from cornerback to safety just last year so Evans is by far the most experienced backup safety on the roster.

Everett, also a converted cornerback, played just 40 snaps on defense, all in the last four games. He got a key interception against the Eagles in his first appearance. The third-year player will be an interesting project to watch.   

Where can the safeties find improvement?

I think that the two new starters are the obvious path to improvement. In Cravens and Swearinger the Redskins will start two young safeties who have the potential to be around and improve for the next several years. There may be some bumps at the outset but the hope is that they can be a solid tandem.

This year’s draft in unusual in that it is strong at the safety position. With Hall and Blackmon unlikely to be around in 2018, the Redskins could use some depth at the position. If they take one early, it would take some creativity for Greg Manusky and new defensive backs coach Torian Gray to work him into the lineup. But it would be one of those good problems to have.

Locks and bubble players

Swearinger and Cravens are the only sure locks. Hall probably is, too, assuming he rebounds from his ACL tear and makes a downward adjustment to his $4.25 million salary.

The team will keep four or five safeties so Blackmon, Everett, and Evans all could stay. But adding a draft pick to the mix could have them competing for the remaining one or two roster spots.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

Quick Links

Week 11 results that would help the Redskins in their race for the 2020 first overall pick

Week 11 results that would help the Redskins in their race for the 2020 first overall pick

The Redskins didn't play in Week 10 but find themselves in a better position to snatch the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft entering Week 11. That is thanks in large part to a shocking Sunday that saw bottom-dwellers like the Dolphins, Jets and Falcons all pick up victories.

As of now, Washington holds the second pick in the draft and sits just a game back of the winless Bengals. However, wins by the other teams give the Redskins at least a one-game advantage on those behind them.

So, with six weeks remaining in the 2019 regular season, that first overall pick is still very much in play. 

The Redskins matchup this week can go a long way in determining how the draft order eventually plays out. Going up against the Jets, Sunday's game could be one of the last games this season in which a win by Washington wouldn't be all that surprising. After an abysmal showing two weeks ago against the Dolphins, the Jets looked much better in a win over the Giants. Still, New York's inconsistency over the season puts them on the same level of the Redskins.

When looking at the matchup from a draft perspective, it would actually be better for the Redskins to lose. A loss would keep them close to the Bengals, and even allow them to jump if the Bengals were to pick up a win. Additionally, beating the Jets would then give New York the advantage over Washington if the two finished the season with the same amount of wins.

However, it is understandably difficult to root for your team to lose a football game, no matter how poorly the season is going. A win for Washington has its benefits as well, particularly because it would potentially mean rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins showed signs of improvement and development as he prepares to start the rest of the year. Win or lose, there will be something good to come out of Sunday's game.

As for the rest of the action around the league, here's what could help the Redskins get closer to the first pick.

Bengals beat Raiders

Switching to rookie quarterback Ryan Finley didn't seem to help the Bengals at all as a 49-13 loss to the Ravens dropped them to 0-9. On both sides of the football, the Bengals just don't look like they have enough to match or compete with anyone.

Week 11 won't be any easier, as the Raiders are a team that is finding its footing as the season continues. At this point, the Bengals winning seems far-fetched even after all the upsets that just took place, but Redskins fans should be pulling for that far fetched results to happen anyway.

Dolphins stay hot and defeat the Bills

Miami, somehow, is on a two-game winning streak. That seems like a sentence that doesn't belong in 2019. Yes, the latest victory was against a Brian Hoyer-led Colts team, but Ryan Fitzpatrick and company are playing decently and have some confidence heading into a battle with Buffalo. 

Though the Bills are the superior team, Buffalo's offense has not clicked much in recent weeks. In the Miami heat, crazier things have happened.

Falcons build off shocking upset to take down Panthers

No game may have been more surprising than the one in which the 1-7 Falcons went into New Orleans and totally outmatched the 7-1 Saints. If that same team somehow shows up against the Panthers this weekend, there's no reason to think Atlanta won't extend its winning streak to two.

Other things to monitor

The Giants jumped from sixth to third in the draft order after losing to the Jets and are now in serious consideration for the first pick. However, a bye this week means New York can't really do much to benefit anyone else.

As for three-win teams like the Browns, Buccaneers, Broncos, Cardinals and Lions, the Redskins still hold two-game leads over all of them. So wins or losses by those squads won't immediately impact Washington's standing, though wins would make things easier for the Redskins down the stretch.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

Here are three things to look for from Derrius Guice in his return from injured reserve

Here are three things to look for from Derrius Guice in his return from injured reserve

Dwayne Haskins isn't the only young and important Redskin making his FedExField debut this Sunday against the Jets.

Derrius Guice, who was activated off of injured reserve last week, will be appearing in front of Washington's fans for the first time as well. His three previous times on an NFL field came in New England, Atlanta and Philadelphia. 

Now, it's difficult to come up with expectations for Guice versus New York, considering it's unknown how he'll split time with Adrian Peterson and how much responsibility the coaching staff wants to give him in his first action since Week 1.

However, while setting specific numbers is a bit foolish, it's definitely worth asking: What kinds of things should the Redskins and their fans want to see from Guice on Sunday?

This list of three things feels like a fair place to start.

1) Finishing the afternoon healthy

This is the most simple and also the most critical thing Guice can do in Week 11.

The second-year pro has suited up for two preseason contests and one regular season affair. In the first of those three, he tore his ACL. In the third of those three, he tore his meniscus.

At this point, there are questions as to whether Guice can be relied upon in the Burgundy and Gold's future, or whether he's too injury-prone. Those questions aren't going to be completely answered by one healthy showing, but they will fade away with each performance he starts and finishes.

2) Delivering blows to defenders

Haskins and Guice haven't been around each other a ton, but the quarterback already has a feel for what the running back can offer the offense.

"Very tough runner," Haskins said of Guice on Wednesday. "He's hard to bring down with the first tackle."

In Guice's albeit limited reps carrying the ball for the Redskins, he has displayed a willingness to take on defenders and initiate contact. There may only be a few chances to look for that in the Jets matchup because of Peterson's presence and a potential light workload, but still, there will be chances.

If Guice is willing to dish out punishment, even coming off his second knee surgery in the league, that means he's feeling like himself. And if he's feeling like himself, his opponents will be feeling like not tackling him.

3) Contributing in the passing game

One area where Guice might be able to operate without losing time to Peterson is in the passing attack. Jay Gruden was always high on what No. 29 can do there, and while Gruden and Bill Callahan have coached the Redskins quite differently, they intersect on that point.

"Prior to his injury, he was doing really well in the passing game," Callahan said Wednesday. "Being able to flex him out, move him, motion him, shift him into those various alignments where we can create a matchup with it. He's been productive as a screen back, a check-down back."

Pay attention to whether Guice is moved around in the ways Callahan mentioned, which would be a nice, creative addition to the offense. Also see if he's able to generate a chunk play or two off of a screen or check-down. 

Peterson is a legend, obviously, but if he's not getting handoffs, he's not doing much. Guice, meanwhile, per his coaches, can be effective as a receiver as well as a runner, a skillset that'll hopefully reveal itself soon.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS