The Redskins haven’t found a long term solution at safety since the tragic death of Sean Taylor. Obviously, Sean Taylor was a special player, and no one expected replacing him would be easy. However, the position has remained a weak point of the Redskins for far too long now.
Several factors have contributed to the Redskins inability to improve the position after Taylor’s death. Recently reinstated safety Tenard Jackson was brought in to start in 2012, only to be suspended indefinitely. In addition to the cap penalties the Redskins faced the past two seasons hampering the team’s ability to bring in free agents at positions of need such as safety.
Regardless of the past circumstances, it is time for a serious upgrade at the position. The Redskins current depth at the position includes starters Brandon Meriweather, who has not proven he can stay healthy and avoid suspensions, and Ryan Clark who will turn 35 during the season, and many believe isn’t the safety he once was. After the starters, the uncertainty continues. Tenard Jackson has been out of football for two seasons and can’t be counted on; rookie Bacarri Rambo was forced into a starting role last year where it was made clear he wasn’t ready, and fellow rookie Phillip Thomas landed on IR before the season got underway.
The Redskins have lacked a truly exciting playmaking safety for far too long now. The Redskins passed on big name free agent safeties like Jarius Byrd, T.J. Ward, and Mike Mitchell. The Redskins have been known to overpay in free agency, so I’m not upset they didn’t pursue a big‑name free agent. What will upset me is if the Redskins fail to address the position in the draft.
Safety is one of the team’s biggest needs, and safety might be the best player available when the Redskins are on the clock in the second and third round. Two players that would be perfect fits in Washington are Northern Illinois Jimmie Ward, and Washington State’s Deon Bucannon.
Both players would bring playmaking ability to a secondary that has lacked it for what seems like forever. Both options offer the versatility that Jim Haslett requires his safety’s to possess, and could contribute immediately. Both would help a special teams unit that was one of the worst in football last season.
Ward and Bucannon’s impact would go far beyond special teams. Either player could push starters Meriweather and Clark for playing time. Both players would provide much needed depth, especially with the uncertainty of the current starting unit.
Safety has been a position the Redskins have needed to improve for some time now, whether its Ward or Bucannon, either player paired with Phillip Thomas would give the Redskins a young talented safety duo to be excited about for the future. Although I believe the Redskins will use a best player available draft strategy, the talent that should be available, combined with the teams need at the position, I would be surprised if the Redskins didn’t draft a safety early in the draft.