Currently the Washington Redskins have six options at safety and are likely to keep at least 4. Washington’s starters are very much up in the air and they are likely to bring in some additional talent through the draft. Here is how they rank, including predictions for where they end-up. Tiers are based off of what their expected value is for 2013, due to a combination of past production and likely potential. Overall potential, or contract status is not really taken into account.
Description: Top level starter, at elite or near elite level, absolute lock to both make the team and start. Won’t face any competition for his job.
Description: Quality starter who may have some minor struggles in a given year, but overall is a good football player. Should both easily make the team and start.
Description: Passable starter, can play the position and be okay, but won’t consistently play at a high level. Will be streaky throughout the season and over the course of many seasons. Depending on position would be better served as a good role player, or would be the best reserve player at a position. Should make the team, though not a lock and should face competition for a starting job.
-Meriweather was signed to be a starter for the Redskins last season, but it quickly turned into a disaster. He first injured his left knee in the 2nd preseason game, only to re-injure it in the week of practice leading up to Week 1. Meriweather suffered another set back in pre-game warm-ups prior to the Skins week 4 game when he collided with WR Aldrick Robinson. Meriweather was not able to return until week 11 (10th game for the Skins) against the Philadelphia Eagles. After a good first half, Meriweather succumbed to a torn left ACL. How he returns is very much up in the air, but the Redskins really shouldn’t expect too much. Even if he wasn’t injured for 15 and a half weeks last year they likely weren’t going to get much from him. He had been benched and then cut by the Patriots for his free lancing play that had cost them, then after getting picked up by the Bears he quickly found his way to the bench. That means two of the best defensive minds in the game couldn’t find a place for him, which doesn’t bode well for his chances in Washington. Also while he had a couple flashy plays in that Eagles game, keep in mind that it was a rookie quarterback’s first start, and he was missing four starting offensive linemen. In fact the Redskins Defense gave up less yards and points in the 2nd half of the game without Meriweather, than in the first half with him. He may still be ticketed for a starting role given how thin the Redskins secondary is and their lack of resources, but it’s not likely to be a positive situation for the Redskins.
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Description: Replacement level starter. This is a guy who could start in a pinch or as a long-term injury replacement but will max out as an average starter, and will probably be below average. He’s a guy who could be okay as a short term filler, but over an extended period will struggle. Depending on position could be a solid player, or would be a good back-up. Has a decent chance to make the team, and could get a look at a starting job, but nothing is set in stone for him.
-Doughty is a core special teamer and a guy who consistently ends up needing to have an expanded role on defense as an injury replacement. Though he’s a bit limited, Doughty does actually a fair job, particularly this past season when the Redskins would sub him out in more obviously passing downs, limiting his coverage weakness from impacting games. The other knock on Doughty is he’s pretty limited into a SS safety role (and not even full time), which hurts given how the Redskins like to have versatility in their safety positions. Doughty is still likely to make the team given his special teams ability and somewhat solid play.
Description: Solid back-up caliber player. Shouldn’t really ever start, and would be below average in that capacity, but can be a short term injury replacement. Shouldn’t even be much of a role player depending on the position, their best value is in their reliability as a replacement. Depending on the position, should be capable of backing up multiple positions or roles to increase their value. Has a chance to make the team, but really shouldn’t be considered a starting option at all.
-When Brandon Meriweather was injured to start the year, Gomes got the starting nod in his place. Initially it looked like the right call as Gomes came up with a crucial interception to seal the game, but after giving up big plays in each of the next two weeks he was benched. Gomes continued to see some action in a rotational role, but typically didn’t see significant snaps after week 3. He is a valuable special teamer which is a plus for him, given that he’s failed to develop much as a safety.
-Pugh was a 6th round pick out of Texas A&M by the Panthers in 2010. He was released in camp by the Panthers last season, and signed by the Redskins in early September after they lost Jordan Bernstine to injury. Pugh got 300 snaps with the Redskins and was used primarily in a rotational role, coming in on passing downs usually in place of Reed Doughty or DeJon Gomes. Pugh didn’t really distinguish himself in his time with the Redskins, though given his age and athleticism he’ll at least be given a look in camp.
Description: Replacement level player. Not considered at all for a starting role, and isn’t even considered a viable back-up. Really only has a shot to make the team if injuries thin out the competition. Overall has a poor chance to make a roster, and is a player who will likely be replaced during the season.
-Bernstein was an unheralded 7th round pick out of Iowa for the Redskins last season. He had a solid camp/preseason and earned a roster spot with Tanard Jackson’s suspension and Brandon Meriweather being injured to start the season. He started the season playing special teams, but was injured in the 4th quarter of the first game on a kickoff. Bernstine tore his ACL, MCL and PCL and will need to miss all of the OTA and minicamp work for the Redskins. He hopes to be back in time for training camp, but given the severity of the injury it is more likely that he starts camp on the PUP list, which would then give the Redskins the option to carry him into the season on the PUP list. The chance that he can contribute in a positive way this year is pretty slim, though the Redskins should at least afford him the opportunity to get back to 100% for 2014.
-Holland was an undrafted rookie out of McNeese State in 2011 by the Tampa Bay Bucs. He initially made the squad and played some on special teams, but was placed on IR that season due to a back injury. He didn’t even make it through camp last year with the new regime in Tampa. He is familar some with Raheem Morris, but that is likely all he has going for him at this point. He’s an extremely longshot to make the team, especially with likely additions through the draft.
What do you think? How would you rank the Redskins safety options? And do you think they should look to upgrade?