Feb 25, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Fresno State defensive back Phillip Thomas runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Despite lacking a first-round pick, the Washington Redskins aggresively attempted to assuage their glaring pass-defense woes with three defensive backs in the NFL Draft last week. The 2nd round brought cornerback David Amerson of North Carolina State, the nation’s leader in interceptions and recipient of the Jack Tatum Award, given to the top defensive back, in 2011. In the 4th, the Skins snagged safety Philip Thomas, from Fresno State, adding another 8 interceptions in the past season to the list of qualifications for their new-and-improved secondary. Finally, SEC-killer Bacarri Rambo, a safety out of Georgia, rounded out Washington’s backfield additions in the 6th round.With what appears to be at least one hole to fill in the Redskins’ secondary, Madieu Williams’ old spot at free safety, these 3 draft additions could have short-term as well as long-term implications for the team. Here is what the future may hold for each:
The Developing Star– unfortunately for David Amerson, cornerback is a position Washington seems relatively content with at the moment. Veterans Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall all but have the starting spots locked up, leaving the former Wolfpack cornerback looking at a year of development. But this is probably exactly what he needs. After he tore up the NCAA with 13 interceptions in 2011, Amerson’s junior campaign the following year consisted of a glaring lack of self-confidence which lead to games in which he gave up as many as four touchdowns. Don’t expect to hear his name much this season, but if the coaches can develop his raw talent and speed (4.35 second 40-yard dash) well, he could be the cornerback in the future. The ball is in Amerson’s hands now.
The Troublemaker– Bacarri Rambo provides a bit of a flashback for the Redskins. Just two seasons ago stars Fred Davis and Trent Williams, tight end and left tackle, respectively, were suspended with 4 games left in the season for failed drug tests. Rambo missed 3 games to start his senior season due to marijuana found in his system. Not a one-time issue, drug use also prohibited him from playing in one game his junior year. Rambo makes up for it on the field, ending his junior season with an AP All-American award and his senior year with a Second-Team All-SEC honor. Scouts’ consensus that he “consistently reads routes and the quarterback’s eyes well, flows with plays from the deep half and breaks on the ball quickly” combines with a 6’0″, 211 lb. frame to create an imposing threat in the secondary. But whether or not the talent of a steady-starter in the NFL can overcome the attitude of a bench-warmer remains to be seen.
The Instant Starter– Philip Thomas was drafted for one reason: to fill Madieu Williams’ slot at free safety. Washington is still grinning at their luck in getting this predicted 2nd-rounder in the 4th. The question of why he was passed over so much is not worth worrying about: the answer is a leg injury that caused him to miss the entire 2011 season, but was not enough to stop him from leading the NCAA in interceptions in 2012. Scouts praise the “strong tackler” who has “quick feet and agility.” Circumstance alone will win him the starting job in 2013, but if those talents continue to show through Thomas will hold the spot for a lot longer.