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Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Safeties

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Safeties

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Safety

On the roster: Su’a Cravens, D. J. Swearinger, Will Blackmon, DeAngelo Hall, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Josh Evans, Earl Wolff, Fish Smithson.

The numbers: Have nine, will keep five or six.

Last year they carried five safeties on the Week 1 roster. They may carry an extra this year and position Blackmon as a swing cornerback/safety.  

Locks: Cravens, Swearinger, Nicholson, Everett

Cravens moves from nickel linebacker to strong safety in a move that was decided late last year with a different defensive coordinator and secondary coach in charge. This move likely was planned from the moment he was drafted. He should be fine at his new position if he can make up for his pedestrian straight-line speed (4.69 in the 40) with athleticism and anticipation.

It’s not often that a 25-year-old player gets the “journeyman” label but it fits Swearinger as he joins his fourth different team for his fifth NFL season. His teammates have praised him as the intimidator they have lacked on the back end of the defense. He will have to move from being primarily a strong safety to playing primarily free and we will have to see how that transition goes.

Nicholson struggled at times at Michigan State, to the point where many analysts believed that he would go undrafted. On top of that, he missed the offseason program with a shoulder injury. Those normally don’t add up to a player being a roster lock but the Redskins like his athleticism and it’s hard to see them immediately moving on from a fourth-round pick. He may make the 53-man roster but end up inactive on most game days.

Perhaps Everett is not one of the four best safeties on the roster but his value on special teams makes him a must-keep player. He could get some more run at safety this year; he played well when given a chance late last year, making a key interception in the win over the Eagles.

On the bubble: Blackmon, Hall, Evans

This is the numbers game in action. If they keep five safeties it's likely that two of these three will be gone.

Blackmon has the advantage of being able to play either safety or any cornerback spot. They like Hall’s veteran presence but he has missed 31 games due to injuries in the last three years. Evans is the dark horse even though he is only 26 and he has 36 starts at safety, more at the position than any other player on the roster.

Long shots: Wolff, Smithson

Wolff started seven games for the Eagles after they drafted him in the fifth round in 2013 but he has hasn’t played a regular-season snap since 2014. Smithson is an intriguing undrafted rookie who may be a fan favorite in the preseason and end up on the practice squad.

Redskins 2017 depth chart previews: Offensive tackle | Wide receiver | Interior O-line | Defensive line | Outside linebacker | Tight end  | Running back  | Inside linebacker  | Quarterback  | Cornerback

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.

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NFL Draft prospect Deionte Thompson to miss combine following wrist surgery

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NFL Draft prospect Deionte Thompson to miss combine following wrist surgery

Starting Tuesday, all 32 NFL teams will have a chance to asses some of the best talents in the upcoming draft at the NFL Combine. However, one of the better safety prospects available will be noticeably absent in Indianapolis.

University of Alabama safety Deionte Thompson will reportedly not participate in combine activities after having surgery on his wrist Friday to mend a torn ligament, according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport. Rapoport did mention that the injury is not believed to have a serious impact long-term. 

Thompson is coming off a junior season at Alabama in which he recorded two interceptions and 78 tackles while earning Consensus All-America honors.

As the draft approaches, the safety is being regarded as one of the better secondary options available for teams. In NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig's latest mock draft, Thompson is projected to go 24th overall to the Oakland Raiders.

Though the projection doesn't have Thompson ending up as a member of the Burgundy and Gold, he is still a realistic option for the Redskins. With a few questions marks in the secondary following the departure of D.J. Swearinger Sr. and the unclear future of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Redskins could very well see Thompson as a viable target at No. 15.

If Thompson's impending recovery time leads to his draft stock falling, there is a slight chance he may even be available in the second round when the Redskins pick at No. 46.

Currently, there is no timetable for his return. Alabama is scheduled to host its Pro Day on March 19, which could be the next time Washington and other teams will get a chance to evaluate Thompson.

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The Redskins' free agency strategy nets more 2019 compensatory picks than expected

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USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins' free agency strategy nets more 2019 compensatory picks than expected

It's a very small consolation, but on Friday, the Redskins finally picked up their compensatory third-round pick for losing Kirk Cousins in free agency last year.

That's not the only new selection they now have in their arsenal for the 2019 NFL Draft, though.

In addition to that third-rounder, Washington also netted a fifth-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a seventh-rounder, too. The four picks is a bit of a surprise, as most expected the Burgundy and Gold would be awarded with only three.

Bruce Allen has explained in the past how the 'Skins value compensatory picks, which teams receive based on the contracts their own free agents sign with new franchises. Last offseason, the Redskins saw Cousins, Ryan Grant, Spencer Long and Trent Murphy all cash in on the open market.

In total, Washington now has nine picks in the upcoming draft, with two each in the third, fifth and seventh rounds. They traded away their fourth-round spot for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Losing homegrown players like Cousins and Co. is certainly not ideal, but by letting those types of guys depart, the Redskins do set themselves up for more swings in April. 

That part of the strategy has paid off. The next step? Making those picks count. 

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