The Washington Redskins’ secondary was awful in 2012 and ranks 22nd in pass defense so far this season. Which is why one of the biggest needs for the Redskins this offseason is clearly at cornerback.
They drafted David Amerson in the second-round last year, but DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, and E.J. Biggers are free agents in 2014. That’s pretty much almost half of the cornerback depth gone.
Plus bringing back Hall, Wilson and Biggers is questionable by their overall play this season. The bottom-line is the cornerback position needs to be addressed in free agency and the draft this offseason.
So let’s start with the soon to be free agent cornerbacks in 2013.
- Charles Tillman: 32-year-old, Pro Bowl caliber veteran with some evidence that the years are catching up to him.
- Aqib Talib: Solid starting cornerback who has flashed shutdown corner potential, but has lacked consistency and is a bit of a head case.
- Brent Grimes: Torn ACL in 2012, but proved he can still play at a high level on the Dolphins in 2013.
- Tim Jennings: Pro Bowl caliber cornerback who has been inconsistent throughout his career.
- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: Inconsistent cornerback with Pro Bowl potential and an injury history.
- Sam Shields: Versatile starting and nickel corner with some injury history concerns.
- Vontae Davis: Flashed Pro Bowl potential, but has always needed a sidekick on the other side to help him shine.
- Alterraun Verner: Young, Pro Bowl cornerback, but may be a one hit wonder.
- Chris Cook: Young and former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings.
With $18,698,860 worth of salary cap space for 2014, the Redskins can lock up one or even two of the cornerbacks mentioned above. Alterraun Verner would be the best overall choice if the Titans allow him to hit free agency, because of his age and already proven Pro Bowl potential.
However, Brent Grimes, Sam Shields, Vontae Davis and Aqib Talib may offer better shots at landing them, because the Titans may exercise a franchise tag on Verner. Now landing one of these free agent cornerbacks can help David Amerson’s development, but cornerback depth in the draft should also be explored.
The 2014 NFL draft is loaded with cornerback prospects, and there will even be some near the top of the second-round for the Redskins to pull the trigger on in the draft room. So let’s take an early look at who might be the top cornerback prospects in the 2014 NFL draft.
- Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: High football I.Q. who can tackle everything that moves with excellent range, but lacks ideal size for the position.
- Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: Right mix of size, football I.Q. and aggressiveness to be a shutdown corner, but lacks straight-line speed.
- Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma: NFL size with good instincts and speed, but can be too aggressive and make mistakes in crucial situations.
- Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida: Solid nickel cornerback who can play man or zone coverage at a high level and add in run support.
- Rashaad Reynolds, CB, Oregon State: Solid zone corner who sometimes overreacts and over pursues at times.
- E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri: High football I.Q. who can tackle, play man coverage and plays bigger than his size.
- Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon: Aggressive and instinctive cornerback with a lot of athleticism and speed.
- Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona: Solid man cornerback who can open field tackle, but needs to take better angles in run support.
- Dexter McDonald, CB, Kansas: Natural cover corner with nice size, speed and instincts, but has some character concerns.
- B.J. Lowery, CB, Iowa: High football I.Q. who lacks ideal size, strength and needs to improve consistency.
- Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech: Ideal size, speed and football instincts, but has a slight injury history with a torn ACL in college.
- Gregory Ducre, CB, Washington: Solid and tenacious nickel corner who may lack fluidity at times.
- Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice: Very fluid athlete with solid man cover skills, but hasn’t proven to be a complete cornerback yet.
- Keith McGill, CB, Utah: Huge cornerback with length for days and high upside, but talent doesn’t always show on tape.
- Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska: Huge cover cornerback who can be overly aggressive at times and rack up penalties at times.
Those 15 corners mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg for the 2014 NFL draft, which makes getting a corner in the 2014 free agency cycle possibly not as important. It would be nice for the Redskins to pick up a solid veteran corner, but if they want to build this team younger and add more talent cheaply, the draft is the way to go.
And that’s why I want to hear from you. Who do you want the Redskins to target in free agency and should they draft a cornerback sometime in the 2014 NFL draft?
James Cobern is a Division Leader and can be contacted at email@example.com or on twitter @Jmcobern1