Updated: Sep 6
By Adam Aniba
Washington trimmed their roster to 53, but made another move by releasing LB David Mayo (later re-signed). Although Ron Rivera was at the 53 player limit, it was reported the release of Mayo was so they could upgrade their depth at cornerback and promptly signed former 49'ers rookie Tariq Castro-Fields.
The former Nittany Lion fits the blueprint that Rivera and Mayhew have targeted this offseason. As with their other drafted/UDFA signings, many have been 5th year seniors with the ability to play multiple positions. Castro-Fields was asked to rotate as a deep safety, in addition to manning the outside corner while at PSU.
During this week's team presser, Martin Mayhew was asked what stood out and led to signing the former PSU rookie corner.
"He has as size speed and athletic ability. We're excited about having him."
6'1" 197 lbs | CB | PSU
Drafted by SF Rd 6 #221
Career Stats (46 games) 139 total tak (94 solo), 10 TFL, 3 int, 25 PD , 1 sack & 1 FF
2021 (12 games) 33 total tak (26 solo) & 6 PD
Castro-Fields is a local product and attended Riverdale Baptist (Prince George's County), where he was a dual sport athlete in football and track. In fact, the Riverdale safety had the fastest 4×400 time in the state of Maryland during his junior year season. The 4-star recruit commits to Penn State, over offers from Maryland and Alabama.
While at PSU, coaches required their defensive backs to be interchangeable with Castro-Fields seeing time at CB and S. The Nittany Lions defense utilized a fair amount of zone concepts, but Castro-Fields was also utilized as a press corner at times as well.
Castro-Fields had his best season during his '19 junior year, when he made 12 starts, recording 2 ints and 8 pass breakups (tied for team lead). His 52 total tackles (32 solo) and 3 TFLs led all PSU cornerbacks. He was named defensive player of the week twice that season for his efforts vs Michigan and Maryland..
Fast forward to 2020, where he missed 6 games due to arm/shoulder injuries. Coming into the season, he was named All-Big Ten honorable mention by the coaches and media. His season ended prematurely after only three starts, but he still earned a sociology degree.
The defensive back elected to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility, in order to return for a 5th season in '21. Castro-Fields had an up and down season, particularly against Illinois and Indiana where he was frequently burned by double moves in coverage. Although he failed to record an interception for the 2nd strait season, he had 6 passes defended leading to his second consecutive All-Big Ten honorable mention by the coaches and a Reese's Senior Bowl invite.
Ideal size/length for the position
PSU coaches raved about his field communication and high football IQ
His ability vs the run is his best trait, displaying the ability pre-snap to diagnose & attack
Speed & Size combination ideal for special teams gunner role
Had success when defending 50/50 balls, effectively utilizing his length
Versatility is a plus with time at CB and S while at Ping
A bit upright in his backpedal, needs to drop his hips when redirecting in coverage
Issues if he's left on an island, needs backend support
Although solid vs the run, needs to show more aggression at the point of attack
Lack of turnovers forced is a concern (0 ints in '20 &'21)
Has the measurables to be a press corner on the next level, but didn't display the type of physicality to be effective in that role
23 years old and concerns raised by evaluators that he's already hit his ceiling
Castro-Fields has the upside to be developed as a backup perimeter cornerback. His 4.38 forty speed and tackling ability, make him ideal for a role on special teams. The PSU defenisve back won't be confused as a ball-hawk, but does have a lot of experience playing in diverse coverage schemes at CB and S.
Washington also re-signed veteran CB Corn Elder to the practice squad and he could get elevated, if the Commanders decide to release a player. Castro-Fields reportedly struggled at times during 49'ers Training Camp and will get his chance to show coaches he's worked on his bad habit of biting on double moves.
Castro-Fields' time in Washington could be brief, unless he makes his mark on special teams and proves that his measurables and speed are worth developing.
*Games Played- 9/4/21 vs UW, 9/8 vs UM, 9/18 vs AUB, 10/2 vs IND, 10/9 vs IOWA, 10/23 vs Illinois, 10/30 vs OSU, 11/6 vs MD, 11/20 vs RUT & 11/27 vs MICH ST
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*Credit YouTube ATG MVP Sports Highlights