This is the eighth in a series of articles analyzing the needs of the Washington Redskins and how they should be addressed in the 2013 NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday. Previously published: Quarterbacks and Running Backs and Wide Receivers and Tight Ends and Right Tackle and Inside Linebacker and Cornerback. We did not cover the rest of the offensive line because, while the Redskins may select someone at those positions, they will probably not do so high or often. The same goes for the defensive line and outside linebacker. They are not areas of need at the moment.
Next up: Safety
ON THE ROSTER NOW
Starters: Brandon Meriweather, ?
Top Reserves: DeJon Gomes, Reed Doughty, Jordan Bernstine, Jordan Pugh
Also on the Roster: Devin Holland
This position was a disaster for the Redskins last year and still looks like one, which you can tell easily from the fact that the only starter I have listed is a guy who played about half a game in all of 2012 and is coming off a torn ACL. It would help immensely if Meriweather can be back and healthy by the start of the preseason. It would also help if he looks like the player he looked like in those 2+ quarters of play against the Philadelphia Eagles last season. That's the only regular season action Meriweather saw and he looked good. But that's it.
The free safety position was supposed to be handled by Tanard Jackson, but he was lost for the season due to a drug suspension and it isn't clear when or if he will return. In any case, the Skins cannot count on him. Madieu Williams stepped into the starting lineup and he was not equal to the task. Arguably the worst starting free safety in the NFL, Williams was the weakest link in the weak link of a secondary.
Reed Doughty is fine close to the line of scrimmage, but suffers badly in coverage. He's a solid special teamer, though, and his presence may be needed there more than ever now that Lorenzo Alexander is gone. The Skins like Jordan Bernstine, a late-round draft pick last year, but he was injured and hardly played. It's unclear what, if anything, he can offer Washington this season. Jordan Pugh is just a guy. DeJon Gomes is more athletic than Doughty, but lacks his instincts and makes too many mistakes in coverage.
Hopefully, the Redskins will address the safety position with either pick 51 or 85. If they do, some good prospects will be available, since this is a draft rich in safety talent. [Lucikly for Washington.] Kenny Vaccaro, Jonathon Cyprien and Matt Elam are the top players at safety in this draft, but all three are likely to be gone by the time 51 comes around. If one of them, most likely Elam, is still available, the Redskins would do well to take him unless an even better cornerback prospect slips to 51. Eric Reid of LSU might slip to the Redskins and he's a solid prospect. His measurables are superb, but he was terrible in coverage last year and I think he missed his former backfield mates Tyrann Mathieu, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Taylor. D.J. Swearinger of South Carolina would be a nice pick at 51, but he won't be around long after that, if he even lasts that long. Swearinger has steadily moved up draft boards because the more teams look at him, the more they seem to like him. I also like JJ Wilcox of Georgia Southern, but my sleeper pick is Josh Evans of Florida. If Evans falls to the third or even fourth rounds, I think the Skins should pounce. He did well in the Combine and the East-West Shrine Game and I think he'd be a very good value pick in round 3 or 4 -- someone who might be able to step in and start immediately.