One of the biggest needs of the Washington Redskins heading into the offseason is at safety. Last years starters Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather most likely won't be re-signed, and the only player at the position currently under contract is Philip Thomas. Although Thomas played free safety at Fresno State, he's more suited to be a strong safety for the Redskins. Thomas didn't play bad last season, as he got extensive playing time in the second half of the year, but it was almost like he was a rookie out there learning from his mistakes, since his first two seasons were cut short due to injury.
If Thomas is able to claim one of the safety spots this summer, we will need to find another impact player to join him in the back half of our secondary. The draft class is weak at safety this year, with just one likely first round pick in Alabama's Landon Collins. Other top players have some holes in their game, and may not be worth a high second round pick.
Adrian Amos is in Mobile Alabama this week playing for the North squad in the Senior Bowl. Amos is a player I've had the pleasure of watching since he arrived as a true freshmen at Penn State. The Baltimore, MD native has 38 career starts in his time at Penn State as both a corner and free safety.
Amos came to Penn State as a cornerback. As a true freshmen, he appeared in every game as a backup, and special teamer, and recorded one start. As a sophomore Amos started all 12 games at cornerback. He recorded 44 tackles, two interceptions, 2.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks and three passes broken up, and was selected All-Big Ten honorable mention by the coaches and media.
As a junior Amos moved to safety for the first six games of the season, before inconsistent play from Penn State corner Trevor Williams(a converted wide receiver) forced him back to corner for the final six games. For the season splitting time between corner and free safety, he totaled 50 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and one interception. While playing corner, opposing teams threw away from him, as he showed lock-down type skills.
This past season, Amos was allowed the luxury of starting all 13 games at his future NFL position; free safety. He was a leader on a defense that was tops not only in the Big Ten, but in the entire nation. He recorded three interceptions on the season, and was an enforcer in the secondary, playing along side true freshmen Marcus Allen. He chipped in 42 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, and had 7 passes defended.
Why he's a fit:
Amos is an exceptional athlete. This past summer at the annual Penn State combine that is held each year, Amos posted a 4.45 laser-timed 40 yard dash, and a 35.5 in vertical. He played his senior season around 210 pounds, but weighed in at 215 this week at the Senior Bowl. He has a smooth backpedal, corner-like hips, and excellent reaction skills when the ball is in the air. He did not tally a ton of interceptions while at Penn State due mainly to the scheme the corners were taught to play under Paterno and then Bill O'Brien, and when Bob Shoup took over as defensive coordinator last year under head coach James Franklin, Amos was at free safety. Still he managed a career high three interceptions, and showed a propensity for coming up and making the big hit on defense.
I expect Amos' stock to rise between now and the draft, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him go in the 4th round. A strong showing this week in practice could help get his name on teams radar. If the Redskins are interested in the Baltimore natives services, he could serve as a reserve free safety and special teamer his rookie season, and work his way into being a full-time starter in the future.
NFL Comparison: Ryan Clark