Robert Sands, FS/SS-West Virginia:
Background: Sands was a three year starter at safety for WVU, and a two-time, first-team All-Big East player. He has 6 career interceptions.
Measurables: 6'4" 217, with a 4.57 40 yard dash
Projected Draft Position: I would put him in the early 4th round, but a number of services list him more in the 4th-5th round range
Pros, Cons, and Analysis after the jump
- Tall, rangy athlete, who rarely get's out jumped
- Good ball skills, breaks on the ball pretty well
- Hard hitter, but also a sure tackler
- Reads the quarterbacks eyes
- Good in the zone and in deep center field
- Very good speed for his size and can cover a lot of ground
- Has improved his angles in chasing down ball carriers
- Passionate, hard working player, who gives 110% every game
- A bit of a FS/SS tweener
- Will struggle in man to man situations, especially when forced to cover receivers
- Not a turn and chase guy, much better going to the football
- Still needs to refine his pursuit angles
- Doesn't catch what isn't thrown to him. For all his ball skills, doesn't come down with a lot of picks
- Aggressiveness could get exposed at the next level
The biggest question to answer about Sands is what type of safety is he. He has the speed, ball skills, and zone coverage ability to be a free safety in the NFL, but the size, tackling ability and lack of man-to-man skills to suggest he is a better fit at SS. Each team will evaluate him differently, but I think Sands can play free safety in the NFL.
I see a lot of raw potential, and the ability to help out both in the 'box' and in center field. The man-to-man skills will be a little suspect, but I like the way he reacts once the ball is in the air. His closing time leads to a number of deflected passes and very few yards after the catch. At times he gambles too much, but usually he is pretty good about knowing whether to go for the ball or the receiver.
I love his athletic ability and rangy frame and think that he is a guy, who might not be a starter as a rookie, but will contribute in dime packages and special teams. He may never be a true star, but I think he has the potential to develop into a good starter for a number of years. I also think he has a pretty low floor. At the very least he should be a good backup, for both safety positions and a special teamer.
Why he makes sense for the Redskins:
Sands versatility is a good fit for the Redskins, as they don't really define their safety positions. While LaRon Landry plays close to the line a lot in the traditional 'strong safety' position, they do flip their positions and have Kareem Moore (the traditional 'free safety) play up on the line as well. Both Redskins safety positions need to be able to both cover and play close to the line. Sands shows ability at both positions and compared to Kareem Moore, would be a vast improvement in both the run and pass game. Sands will also help cover bigger and taller receivers, which should help prevent guys like Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson just out jumping the Redskins defensive backs.
Sands might go in the 4th round and if the Redskins end up with a pick there they should have him on their shortlist, and there is an outside chance he would be available for their first 5th round pick. He wouldn't be a starter on most teams, but barring the Redskins signing another veteran, Sands could very well be the opening day starter.
Steve Shoup has been a Redskins fan his entire life and dreams of the day they get back to the glory days of his youth. In addition to his regular piece on Hogs Haven, you can find his daily writings at Fanspeak.com.