Redskins Top Defensive Sleeper: E.J. Biggers
June 6, 2013 in Redskins Personnel
E.J. Biggers Defensive Sleeper | 5 Defensive Sleepers | Leonard Hankerson Offensive Sleeper | 5 Offensive Sleepers
The Redskins didn't do much of anything of significance in free agency, but one interesting move they made was the signing of Tampa Bay cornerback E.J. Biggers. Biggers was a 7th round pick by the Buccaneers in 2009 out of Western Michigan. He missed his first year due to injury, but quickly moved up the depth chart after that as a spot starter/key reserve. He was up and down in that capacity in 2010/2011, but this past year he earned more of a full time starting role and played pretty well. He's got plenty of experience with DB coach Raheem Morris, offers nice size, length and the versatility to play both inside and outside. He's not proven to be a good starter, but does represent an upgrade over the Redskins 3rd corner (Cedric Griffin) from a year ago. Biggers will get a chance to challenge for a starting role, given the inconsistencies of DeAngelo Hall, and Josh Wilson coming off a down year and offseason injuries.
Not only could Biggers vie for a starting job, but he has the potential to be a breakout player this year. Biggers will be just 26 years old this season, and could be entering the prime of his career. He's coming off a strong year last season where according to Pro Football Focus he allowed completions on 61.3% of passes targeted against him and 12.8 yards per catch. Those numbers are about average, but definitely an improvement over DeAngelo Hall's 67% and 13.9 yards per catch. Though not a shutdown corner, Biggers would have saved 165 yards on Hall based on the same number of targets. That doesn't sound like a lot, but that is 10.5 yards a game, essentially a first down that each opponent is losing. What may be most impressive is Biggers performed at this level despite missing much of camp and the start of the season due to a broken foot. Not only did that injury likely hinder him a bit on field, that level of development time and familiarity with a new coaching staff was lost due to the missed time. Between that and how little support Biggers had with the Buccaneers weak pass rush, Biggers season was pretty impressive.
Biggers hasn't been the ball hawk that the Redskins have been seemingly focusing on this offseason, with just three career interceptions, but he has shown consistent coverage throughout his career (both as a slot and outside corner). He has 26 passes defended over the last three years, by comparison Josh Wilson has 28 and DeAngelo Hall has 27, despite both playing more and having more passes thrown their way.
The case for Biggers though just isn't about stats though. At 6'0" tall Biggers has the best size of Hall, Wilson and himself. Rookie David Amerson has a few extra inches, but he's a bit raw and not really a guy you want matching up against taller more physical receivers. Biggers on the other hand has shown that he can hold his own versus quality guys with size. He could end up being the Redskins top choice versus guys like Hakeem Nicks, Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall and other big receivers this year. Biggers also shows good reaction time and instincts in coverage, something that has been a problem area for the Redskins in recent years.
Though Tampa Bay had a good starting corner in Biggers last year (especially when looking at context), the Redskins should expect more out of him. He progressed throughout his career in Tampa, and at his young age should continue to do so this year. Given that the period of adjustment shouldn't be as bad given the presence of Raheem Morris and the Redskins should have a far superior pass rush (assuming Brian Orakpo is healthy), Biggers has sleeper written all over him. If he stays healthy this training camp, don't be surprised if Biggers ends up as one of the starting corners when the Redskins host the Eagles week one.
What do you think? Can Biggers take his game to the next level and become a good starter for the Redskins?