Friday, March 7, 2014
Offseason needs: cornerback
By John Keim
The Redskins already re-signed corner DeAngelo Hall last month, but the work here isn't over. Far from it.
Why it’s a need: The Redskins have only two corners under contract capable of playing a lot in an NFL game in Hall and David Amerson. The Redskins need to find someone who can play in the slot as neither Hall nor Amerson is best suited for that job. Hall played there two years ago, but it was a struggle. I used this stat a couple weeks ago, but it’s indicative of what a team needs: Amerson, as the No. 3 corner, played 67 percent of the defensive snaps last season. Josh Wilson and E.J. Biggers are free agents. I can see Biggers returning, but not Wilson.
In-house options: Maybe Chase Minnifield improves and can help and maybe Richard Crawford shows that he’s healthy after his knee injury and will contribute again. But, for now, both are question marks. Crawford showed good improvement last summer, particularly in the slot where his patience enabled him to mirror the receiver well. Minnifield showed tenacity in press coverage during the summer, but struggled when in zone or off-man coverage. It takes time to learn for some players. I have a feeling one of them will be able to be a solid fourth or fifth corner.
Free-agent options: The one player who could be intriguing is New England’s Aqib Talib, if the Patriots somehow let him get away. Talib has remained close with Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris, so if he decides to leave, and the money is right, then perhaps he’d come to Washington. Talib would give the Redskins versatility, with an ability to play inside or out. The Redskins could use another quality corner in a league where three is a must. Biggers is an option, but he’s best as a fourth corner, but would provide good depth. I also like Carolina’s Captain Munnerlyn to a degree, but only if he’s asked to play inside (he did both in Carolina but worked a lot in the slot. At times he’d get off-balance, but was overall solid inside). He’s small and at some point the Redskins need to find a bigger corner.
Draft options: It’s a good draft for corners, so even if the Redskins sign one in free agency, they could be tempted to select another one in Rounds 2-4. Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner and TCU’s Jason Verrett are two possibilities, though both are small. It’s OK to draft a smaller player if he’s that good. But the ideal would be around 6-foot and both of these players are around 5-foot-9. Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste is a bigger corner, but he’ll have to learn to play off, too. It’s not as if the Redskins will only use press man. Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller is likely a first-round pick, though he could sneak into the second. Overall, there are probably 15-20 corners who could go in the first four rounds.