Everyone knows about the Redskins defensive back woes, particularly at Safety. That has caused some people to suggest we devote most of our draft on defensive backs and right tackles (our other area of need). I have seen mock drafts from fans suggesting we take up 5 DBs!! The draft class is deep at the DB position but not with year 1 starters or players that can significantly contribute in year 1. There is a huge drop off in talent between the top tier and 2nd tier defensive backs in this draft. The concern and the question you must ask is: can you see this player starting and being a productive player in year 1 for us? If the answer is no then don't fall in love with combine numbers and take him anyway then plug him in as a starter and watch him be ineffective all season then bench the guy and kill his confidence then you're looking at a potential bust. The Oakland Raiders were the masters at that. We need starters out of this draft and not a bunch of defensive backs with great 40 times or bench press numbers but aren't ready to defend Dez Bryant or Hakeem Nicks. If you can't see a player holding up against the top WR in our division then we can't consider them in the earlier rounds. The problem is not that many in the 2nd tier are capable of plug-and-play next year. In that 2nd tier I would say Eric Reid, Phillip Thomas Tyronn Mathieu, Jonathan Cyprien and perhaps T.J. McDonald at Safety, and even less 2nd tier CB are ready to contribute year 1.
It makes sense to draft the BPA at Safety in the 2nd because we should have a shot at one of the top tier DB when we pick in the 2nd then draft an efficient offensive weapon or defensive back in the 3rd. By efficient I mean a RB that can receive out of the backfield as well as KR/PR or a DB that can do the same (Mathieu or Kenjon Barner RB or Kenny Stills WR in this scenario makes a ton of sense)
Usually the 4th round is considered for depth but not in our case. The 4th round is our 3rd so we must approach it looking for a player in our areas of need that is closest to being a starter in year 1. Sounds like a daunting task, right? Well, yes and no. While the draft evaluation process is far from an exact science, I can use several parameters to gauge solid, year 1 contributors. Let's take for granted they all have speed so we can cancel that out. First, are they instinctive, natural players at their position (Mathieu, Thomas, Vaccaro, Eric Reid, Kenny Stills) they tend to transition the quickest to the next level because of that one attribute alone. Next, is footwork and technique. If you have speed, instinct, and textbook technique you have a chance to be great early on as a rookie. Third, by looking at tape of a player you don't need watch thousands of hours of film to decide whether a player has it or not. If a Safety should be a natural hitter/tackler then I can watch a couple of games versus top opponents and see if he tackles with his shoulder then wraps up or is he an arm tackler. The best indicator of those attributes are at the end of games when they are tired and technique goes out the window. Players usually eschew fundamentals and fall on their natural abilities when they are fatigued. Vaccaro, and Reid are natural hitters and tacklers they lead with their shoulders and use their arms to wrap up. Phillip Thomas is fundamentally sound with some of the best instincts against the pass that I've seen in quite a while. He analyses a play and it puts him in position to be where the ball is constantly. Tipped balls, fumbles after the catch. Kind of reminds me of decent safety in Baltimore named Ed Reed with his ability to let the DB make the tackle and Reed is ready in the background to scoop up or catch the ball after the impact. Now, I'm NOT comparing Phillip Thomas to Ed Reed however I'm comparing their instincts at the position.
Using those parameters alone (and I have more that I use but I'll just leave it at those) a lot of the 2nd tier are dwindled down to only a select few. Which leads me back to who and when to choose them. With those parameters in place and choosing outside of those attributes you are setting yourself up for a reach/bust. That's why I suggest we take the 2nd rd pick on DB because some of the top tier DBs will still be around but going into the 3rd, the odds of a year 1 contributor dwindles significantly.
So why address an offensive area of need in the 3rd? Because solid year 1 contributors on offense will still be around more so than a year 1 contributor at DB? My thinking is if you draft offensively with the 3rd you would want them to be an efficient pick with multiple skills. That would definitely solve our KR/PR issues as well as add a dynamic facet to our offense. I know some think we need another year to see what the WR's can do but I guarantee teams are hoping we stick with the same players and not tweak any skill positions because it makes it easier to guess what we'll do offensively if you have the same players. Especially ones like ours that wreak of mediocrity. With that said I definitely see Shanahan taking 2/3 DB's, a WR, a receiving RB, LB, NT/DE. I think we address the RT position in free agency, which is the smartest move, because it doesn't make sense to draft another lineman unless you can picture him immediately starting. Our lineman are backlogged in there development right now. By that I mean they are all right about the same place now developmentally. They all have experience in the offense but no one has really broken away and claimed that LG or RT positions. So the best course of action is sign a veteran to keep the continuity and production as close to last year as possible. Sebastian Vollmer would be a wonderful addition.
A well rounded draft that includes two starting DB's, a playmaking offensive addition or two would ensure that our team develops and peaks at the same time. That's what you want in a perennial Superbowl contender.