The top of the Redskins safety depth chart is murky at best, as returning DeJon Gomes, will compete with newcomers Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson for the two starting safety spots. While those three are the obvious favorites, I think the Redskins might have a sleeper in the competition, that few are giving much credit to and that is Madieu Williams. Now on most teams Williams might not have much of a chance, but given the uncertainty surrounding the Redskins top three safeties, Williams could have a real chance to earn a starting role early in the season.
DeJon Gomes is a favorite to earn one safety spot, but despite the coaches seemingly in his corner, it is far from a lock. Gomes played a lot of nickel corner and LB in college, so he’s a bit raw. That rawness cost the Skins at times last season, and won’t be tolerated as much by a 2nd year player. Brandon Meriweather is considered another favorite given his two former Pro Bowls, and his contract being the largest among the safeties. While those are true points, Meriweather has been benched/cut by two top defensive minds as his free lancing style has cost his respective teams. Meriweather also has off the field issues and might not be the mortal lock that most are assuming. Tanard Jackson was new secondary coach Raheem Morris’ FS in Tampa. Though that could equal a leg up, he also has his off the field and attitude issues. He also has been a poor tackler throughout his career.
Lost in the shuffle is Madieu Williams, who could be a steal of an offseason pick-up for the Skins. I realize many Skins fans will see that Williams will be 31 during the season, and pass on him for a younger option, but that would probably be a big mistake. Age is hardly the most important factor between two players in a position battle, especially when none of the players figure to be here long term. The Redskins need to play their best two safeties regardless of age, and Williams could very well be one of those players at some point during the season.
Williams is a former 2nd round talent, and was once considered among the better safeties in the league. He might have never been on the Sean Taylor/Ed Reed level of safeties, but he was as valuable as a Ryan Clark. Now injuries have taken their toll on Williams, and he may no longer be a first or second tier starting safety, but he could be right below that (which on the Redskins would be pretty nice). He’s solid in both coverage and run support. While he’s done most of his damage at FS, and could play both, he profiles better as a SS over the course of the season.
Off the field Williams character is unquestioned, as is his leadership on the field. While he might not make as many flashy plays as some of his competition, but his track record is far more consistent. That consistency could be key, because too often the Redskins defense has faltered because of inconsistency. He’s a smart heady ball player, that will play within the system and make tackles. Williams might be more of a long shot now, but I think he could be a sleeper on this team, and end up a nice starter for the Redskins this season.