Welcome back to the B&G Report. In today’s Quick Hits Edition we’ll go through a few depth concerns on the Redskins defense. Many fans believe this could be the best roster the Redskins have had in 20 years, on paper that is. Interestingly enough, some of the Skins Blue Chip players such as; Josh Norman, Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and DJ Swearenger lack true depth behind them. If the above mentioned players were to go down with injury, their units could be in big trouble. I understand teams can’t pay their backup role players starter money, but that doesn’t mean talent can’t be found on the cheap! Without further ado let’s get started!
#1 Outside Linebacker Depth
*The Redskins Outside Linebackers at first glance look like a position of strength, that is until you look behind Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith. Although I like the the potential that former 2nd Round OLB Ryan Anderson has, he’s undersized and slow. Word out of OTA’s is Anderson worked with the D-Line in a few drills. I wouldn’t look too much into that report, but it’s been mentioned that Anderson might not have a true position in the Redskins 3-4 Defense. Personally I think Anderson fits the bill as a 4-3 Strong Side LB. It’s not as if he’s extremely undersized at 6’2 253, it’s his lack of speed and arm length that are my primary concerns. I do like how he seals the edge in the run game, but they need more from him in year two. Also producing on Special Teams could help Anderson stick. The decision not to bring back former Redskin OLB Junior Galette could haunt Washington this year and beyond. Word is he was looking for an annual salary of around $6 million a year with decent guaranteed money. So far teams have been hesitant to meet his asking price though and remains available in FA. Reports also surfaced that the Skins previously had an offer on the table for Junior, only to pull the offer after he didn’t counter. Galette recently made a statement that he’s considering retirement. I truly believe he’s posturing and the Skins should make a final push to resign the quick twitch speed rusher. The signing of FA Pernell McPhee was a decent depth move, considering his 6’3 265 wide body frame and ability to stop the run. Put aside that the former Chicago OLB has missed a ton of games over the last 3 seasons, his ability to rush the passer is in question after suffering a myriad of injuries. The Skins desperately need a player who can bend the edge on third down and rush the passer, who’s not named Kerrigan or Smith. The Redskins need to use the offseason wisely and bring in additional tryout players, in hopes of uncovering a diamond in the rough. July is the time of year that teams sign and release players on a weekly basis, as teams form their rosters. So if Anderson doesn’t progress, look for the Skins to make an upgrade at the position in the coming weeks and months.
#2 Safety Depth
Safety depth is the second position of concern. Although DJ Swearenger and 2017 4th round selection Montae Nicholson looked great when they were on the field together, it didn’t last long. The game vs the Raiders in Week #3 last year, showed exactly how potent these DB’s could be together! Nicholson registered his first career interception and Swearenger nearly took Oakland RB Marshawn Lynch’s head off! After that game though, Nicholson was in and out of the lineup with various injuries. Nicholson was my favorite 2017 rookie and this team looks different with him playing centerfield.
The Redskins did make an attempt to upgrade the position in the 2018 Draft with the selection of Troy Apke in the 4th Round. So that’s two years in a row, that the Redskins dedicated a 4th Round to the safety position. Similar to 2017 selection Nicholson, Apke is viewed as a player with speed and potential. I don’t believe coaches envisioned Nicholson having such an early impact in ’17 and are possibly hoping for the same from Apke. I was on board with the selection for the former Penn State safety, although other prospects/positions of need with higher ceiling were available. I do think Apke could be a baller in time though, but his role will start on Special Teams in 2018. I might be in the minority, but fourth year safety Deshazor Everett isn’t a fit for this defense. At 6’0 195 he isn’t small by an stretch of the imagaination, but his slight frame is a liability any time he’s asked to be agreesive. I understand Everett has had limited opportunities, but he has had them (started the last 6 weeks in ’17 with a career high 589 defensive snaps). Even with those opportunities, Everett fell short in my humble opinion. It’s time to look for another option. Having Apke backup your only true FS and Everett just isn’t enough, another option for depth is needed. I do like UDFA QuinnBlanding, who offers good size at 6’2 207. His 2018 destination will most likely be the Practice Squad though, unless he turns some heads in Camp.
I loved the selection of Daron Payne in the 1st round, but former FSU safety Derwin James was also on the board. Some had James rated as a Top 10 prospect. I believe the Redskins went with the need pick in Payne, considering James was the higher rated prospect on most boards and could have been viewed as a luxury pick. In the end the Redskins made the right decision selecting the former Alabama lineman. The Tide Connection in Allen & Payne look to have upgraded a former position of weakness. Similar to the Outside Linebacker position, I’m hoping a hard hitting safety becomes available. Former Charger safety Tre Boston is still available and would fit great in Washington! This seems unlikely though, considering that Everett recently received a contract extension. The former Texas A&M safety has a lot of heart and great work ethic per reports, but I just don’t believe he’ll continue to develop and believe he’s hit his ceiling.
#3 Cornerback Depth
*Skins fans have voiced their concerns on social media with this current position group as a whole. Personally I’m not worried, mainly due to the upgrades on the defensive line. The Skins DB’s will have more opportunities for interceptions in 2018, based on the pressure I anticipate coming from the new additions. Josh Norman had a down year for sure, but I attribute his slip in play to his rib injury that seemed too linger. I expect Norman to have a better year.
The signing of former Cowboy Orlando Scandrick, screamed of desperation, after they swung and missed on former Giant corner Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie aka DRC. Rumor has it that the required guaranteed money to sign him, was just too rich for Washington. DRC remains unsigned and hopefully the Redskins still have an open dialogue going with the former Giant.
After that the depth at cornerback becomes a little murky, but promising. Players such as Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau and rookie Greg Stroman look to solidify this unit. They might be an unproven group, but could be awesome if they live up to expectations! In saying that, I’m hoping Skins fans don’t expect much from Scandrick. His five year injury history is major reason for concern. In the end, I expect the Redskins to possibly kick the tires on some veteran corners before the season starts.
Thanks for checking another Quick Hits Edition of The B&G Report. Stay tuned for more OTA and roster analysis!
Written By Adam Aniba