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Random draft thoughts: Defensive backs (Keim)

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Old 04-06-2013, 12:44 PM   #1
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Random draft thoughts: Defensive backs (Keim)

1. Have a few draft items from my guy Russ Lande (Montreal Alouettes director of college scouting; National Football Post draft analyst; ex-NFL scout). Safety Jonathan Cyprien is the hot name at his position, but Lande said because the position is not that valued in the first round, he could see Cyprien slipping into the early part of round two. “But it’s not likely,” Lande said. The Redskins would do well to get Cyprien, but at 51 the chances are slim.

2. One name at corner that could be interesting: Georgia’s Sander Commings. Here’s what Lande had to say about him: “All season the scouts didn’t like him; he’s not a competitor. But the problem is, he might not be a competitor but he’s a 6-foot kid. A few scouts told me that he is far and away the most physically gifted corner in the conference. Physically he’s a freak. At the Georgia Pro Day it was like child’s play. He can press, he can do anything you want. He’s a happy-go-lucky kid. Scouts don’t think he has a lot of passion and relies on his talent. But teams are falling for this guy. He’ll definitely be gone in the second despite most thinking he was a late round player when they graded him on film.”

3. Another possibility at safety remains Florida’s Matt Elam. At one point Lande said Elam would be a late first- or early second-round pick. But now Lande said he’s hearing Elam could go anywhere from the mid-second to the mid-third round. “Teams say they know he’s aggressive and will hit, but he’s not a good cover guy. But if you get him in the right spot it’s great value. Is he a tortoise in coverage? No. He’s adequate. He’s a great kid with unbelievable intangibles and leadership. When he’s on the field’ he’s got unbelievable charisma and leadership. Off the field he’s not a bad kid, but he’s not always focused. But on the field he’s the guy all his teammates look to. He sets the tone. One scout said this week that he didn’t like him, but he’d want him on his team and that this is the type of guy you win with. He can play free safety and he’s probably better there than if you put him up close. He’s only 5-10 so if he matches against tall tight ends they’ll chew him up. But if you let him roam and make plays he can do that sort of thing.”

4. Lande still views South Carolina safety D. J. Swearinger as a third- or fourth-round pick. Why? Because he’s talented, but with flaws. The good: “He has experience as a corner and has started a lot of games, so he’s intriguing. Athletic. Willing to hit.” The bad: “He’ll whiff and go for the knock-out hit and end up on the ground with the guy going by him.” The summation: “Some flaws, versatility and speed and a willingness to compete gives him a chance to contribute on teams while he figures it out.”

5. Too often I’ve heard Southern Cal safety T.J. McDonald looks the part rather than plays the part. But keep in mind that Redskins coach Mike Shanahan will take a look at a players’ best plays and conclude that perhaps they can coax that effort out of him more often. So, enter McDonald. But there’s still a buyers beware. As Lande said, “At best he’s a third-round pick. But if you take the 30 best plays for any safety his are right there with [Kenny] Vacarro. Now, you have to search harder to find them because there’s only one or two per game. But talent wise, he’s 6-2, 220 pounds and a tremendous athlete. But he’s not a fiery competitive kid. He turns down hits. But if you want a guy who will flash, that’s the guy.”

6. UCLA’s Sheldon Price is worthy of a second- or third-round pick based on his athleticism. But his game film suggests otherwise. Still, in the fourth or fifth round he’d be good value. Lande: “When he’s on his game, and he tends to be off and lets his backpedal get sloppy, but when his pedal is on and he focuses he can plant and drive and close in a flash. He can run with anyone. He has good ball skills. But he’s not a consistent guy or physical kid. But someone will take a shot on him because it’s too hard to find athletic corners.” Lande said others in that same area who would be good value include Utah’s Ryan Lacy or Mississippi State’s Darius Slay.

7. Talked to one defensive coach about converting college corners to safeties and the name that popped up for him: Xavier Rhodes. He’s a potential top-10 pick, but this coach liked him more as a safety because he has “thick legs and a big [butt]…. He has good vision and great ball skills.” One reason he likes converting players from corner to safety: “They could play in the slot and roam and they knew the stress that the corners were under. They’re better open-field tacklers because they’re used to playing in more space against quicker guys.” One player he does not like? North Carolina State’s David Amerson. “Too soft,” he said.

8. This coach also agreed with the notion that Seattle’s safeties will cause other teams to reconsider the idea that they must have interchangeable parts deep. The Seahawks use Earl Thomas in the deep middle, have their corners play press and let Thomas go side-to-side on a flat path to help defend. That isn’t really new, however; it’s what the Redskins used to do in the Gregg Williams’ D with Sean Taylor and then LaRon Landry.

Redskins Mailbag

John: Is Winfield just using us to drive up the price on the Vikings?
@readytowinitall

@readytowinitall: No. There’s legitimate interest on Winfield’s end. Before he came to Washington he did a lot of research on the area, the team, the fan base, etc. You don’t put in that sort of effort if you’re not interested. Also, I was told that another appeal to playing here is that it would be only about six hours from his family in Northeast Ohio, and would allow his grandparents to drive to home games (they don’t like to fly). Is that a major consideration? Don’t know. But I do know it’s part of his thought process. There’s still a good chance he returns to Minnesota – the Redskins might not be able to free up cap space to sign him. But Winfield remains interested in Washington.

JK

John: Thrilled to see the return of the mailbag! A couple questions on our need to clear cap space for the rookies: and I say “rookies” because it seems ridiculous to need to clear cap space for Rex Grossman – if his value is in mentoring the young’uns, why do we need him as a player? Why not hire him as some kind of assistant-to-the-assistant QB coach? Number two: I’ve been liking the idea of drafting (or even better, signing UDFA) Jeff Locke so that Sav Rocca could be released – which I believe would buy us around $1M on the 2013 cap. Is our lovable over-the-hill gigantor punter really going to give us $2.5M-worth of punting through his 42nd birthday?! Why isn’t this a no-brainer?

Thanks and HTTRs,

Adam

Adam: The Redskins total cap hit for all three quarterbacks will likely be around $6.5 million (Robert Griffin III will account for around $4.8 million). That’s not a lot of money to spend at the premier position in sports. Kirk Cousins will cost around $600,000, which gives the Redskins the luxury of bringing back a veteran such as Grossman to serve as a No. 3. Also, with Griffin’s knee situation, would you rather have Cousins and another young guy who is a couple hundred thousand dollars cheaper (and has never played in a game; yes, the Redskins did well with two rookies last year, but it took them how many years and failed QBs to reach this point?). Grossman is insurance. I wonder if Griffin were healthy if the Redskins wouldn’t go with two quarterbacks this season. Shanahan has done that a few times in his career. But with Griffin’s knee situation it’s tough to do. As for Rocca vs. Locke, we’ve all seen many touted college punters flop in the NFL. The ‘Skins have drafted a couple themselves (Ed Bunn, third round 1993; Durant Brooks, 2008). It’s tough to rely on rookie punters – that’s why it’s not a no-brainer. Does it mean they shouldn’t consider him? Of course not. I would. And if he wins the job with a great camp, that’s fine. Just know that punters often take a couple years to really gain consistency.

JK

John: My question is about the cap. A recent Post article stated that the Skins only have $1M of cap left. I was wondering about the draft. Is there some other pool of money that is reserved for signing draft picks or are the more moves coming to free cap space to sign the picks, or…. is it possible that the Skins have a strategy to use all of their cap space in free agency, pick some guys in the draft, and the tell the NFL, well, sorry, we don’t have any money to sign them, and toss the problem back in the laps of the NFL and Goodell? Or course, that latter thing is far fetched, but it would be interesting!

Bob

Bob: Their rookie draft pool will cost them around $3.5 million. The Redskins will need to create more salary cap room in order to sign all of their picks. While I’ve heard a couple theories about what they could do, I haven’t considered your proposal. Sure, it would throw it back at the NFL but the Redskins would then be out seven draft choices who might be able to help them. The Redskins will have to either have another player take a pay cut, restructure a contract or release someone to afford their rookies.

JK

John Keim
Redskins Beat Reporter for the Washington Examiner
Redskins Confidential Blog
Follow him on Twitter @John_Keim
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Old 04-06-2013, 01:27 PM   #2
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Re: Random draft thoughts: Defensive backs (Keim)

4. Lande still views South Carolina safety D. J. Swearinger as a third- or fourth-round pick. Why? Because he’s talented, but with flaws. The good: “He has experience as a corner and has started a lot of games, so he’s intriguing. Athletic. Willing to hit.” The bad: “He’ll whiff and go for the knock-out hit and end up on the ground with the guy going by him.” The summation: “Some flaws, versatility and speed and a willingness to compete gives him a chance to contribute on teams while he figures it out.”

I want this to happen. Huge Gamecock fan, and I've seen this guy play in person. Has some Laron tendancies in him, but I think he can adjust and be huge for us.
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