Offseason Position Primers: Defensive Backs

For my third entry in the series I present you a review of the Redskins cornerbacks and safeties, which could be an area of the team that has a ton of turnover in the offseason. Lets take a look at where we left off in 2011.

CB - D. Hall/J. Wilson/P. Buchanon (FA)/K. Barnes (FA)/B. Westbrook/B. Thompson: Wilson is back and Hall is probably 95% sure to be back as well, as much as some Skins fans might like to see him go. So, our #1 and #2 will be retained, but Buchanon and Barnes most likely will not. Westbrook and Thompson could be back, but we could also upgrade depth there. They provide decent depth and Westbrook excels on special teams, but neither one is capable of stepping into the nickel role at this point. Lets take a look at the top available players:

FA- C. Finnegan (TEN), B. Carr (KC), Tracy Porter (NO), Terrell Thomas (NYG), William Middleton (JAX)
Draft - M. Claiborne (LSU), S. Gilmore (SCAR), C. Hayward (VAND)

We could use our #1 overall on Claiborne, but I've already projected it to be used on a offensive player. Gilmore is a possibility in the 2nd. Hayward is a name I have heard pop up in the later rounds and I have heard some very good things, but don't know much. Honestly the free agent corner market is a buyers market, and if we wait it out and let teams overspend on guys like Brandon Carr, we could end up stealing a young, starting caliber CB a la Josh Wilson in 2011. William Middleton is a very intriguing name with too small a sample size, but could end up being that "Who?" free agency move that ends up paying major dividends (Josh Wilson, again). Thomas is a guy I would love to steal from the Giants and Porter is probably the best of the 3 I like (Porter, Thomas, Middleton). Bruce Allen has a penchant for shrewd moves in his short team, such as stealing Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield from divisional opponents and I expect he might do the same with Thomas.

FS- O. Atogwe/D. Gomes: Atogwe is a release candidate after a down year, numerous injuries and a 4 million dollar plus cap number. Gomes will definitely be back on his rookie contract and could take over as starter at either safety positions. If we do cut ties with Atogwe, we will have to bring in depth at FS via free agency or the draft. Lets take a look at the top options:

FA- D. Goldson (SF), D. Lowerey (JAX), T. Jackson (TB)
Draft- M. Martin (OSU), W. Guy Jr. (UK), B. Taylor (LSU)

I'd love to cut ties with Atogwe and draft the position. I'm not too intrigued by the free agent prospects here and typically starters can be found at the safety position late in the draft. Taylor is the guy I like most here. Winston Guy would definitely be great too. If either one of them falls into the 4th round we should take them. They both seem pro ready and putting them beside Gomes could be a starting safety tandem for years to come.

SS- L. Landry (FA)/R. Doughty (FA): The likely scenario seems that Landry is gone or that he returns on a discounted one year deal. If Landry stays, then we need to seek out a more reliable backup than Doughty, who has excelled as a situational player (blitzer) but has struggled mightily in coverage and has been a reliability when asked to feel in for Landry for long stretches. I think Landry is most likely gone and I need think retaining Doughty makes much sense either. Neither guy were Shanahan picks, whereas both Free Safeties are. I expect alot of turnover in this position. Lets look at the top options:

FA - Tyvon Branch (OAK), Michael Griffin (TEN), Sean Jones (TB)
Draft- M. Martin (OSU), W. Guy Jr. (UK), B. Taylor (LSU)

Branch is the prize of this group, but I've never been crazy about sinking tons of dough into the safety positions. It seems like a position you can skimp on a little bit, and drafts typically are deep with safety talent, and this one is probably no exception. I listed the same safety prospects here, because if we land one of them, they would most likely start along side Gomes. I am projecting Gomes to be the starter now, although that is far from set in stone. I just feel that with the direction this team is going, starting Gomes makes a whole ton of sense. Sean Jones from Tampa Bay is a guy I could see us bringing in for depth. He has ties to new DB coach Raheem Morris and seeing as we need safety help badly, the marriage just seems to perfect. After drafting Taylor and signing Jones, I'm not sure we make another move at safety, at least nothing major. We may end up keeping more cornerbacks and using them as safety depth in a pinch.

Potential 2012 Defensive Backs:

CB- D. Hall/J. Wilson/T. Thomas/B. Thompson/B. Westbrook
FS- D. Gomes/B. Westbrook
SS- B. Taylor/S. Jones

Not bad, not great either. Having Gomes and Taylor build chemistry and learn the position while the team is in rebuild mode has exciting potential for the future of the safety position. I don't love Hall as the #1 corner, but we will probably have to live down his contract for at least another year or so. Besides, Wilson and Thomas might end up being just as good in certain looks within the defense, and that makes for great depth at the position.

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