Can the Redskins' rookie DB's contribute in '13?

Can the Redskins' rookie DB's contribute in '13?
July 19, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Eyes on Richmond: Can Alfred Morris improve?

Tandler - Tarik

By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler

Twenty questions No. 6— Can the rookie defensive backs contribute this year?

The 2013 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will be examining the top 20 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.

The defensive backfield was one of the team’s weakest areas in 2012 as the team ranked 30th in passing yards allowed. But you certainly can’t say that the team didn’t address the need in the draft. Three of their seven picks went to defensive backs as they drafted cornerback David Amerson (2nd round) and safeties Phillip Thomas (4th) and Bacarri Rambo (6th). While all three of them have good long-term prospects, will any or all of them help strengthen the secondary of a team that has aspirations to make a deep playoff run?

Rich Tandler: Former Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache, who was known to turn a colorful phrase, once said that falling in love with a rookie was like falling in love with a stripper. “It’s great for a while but you’re always going to end up with a broken heart,” said Blache. I will caution Redskins fans to remember those words when Amerson, Thomas, or Rambo gets on the field this season (and they all should get some key snaps during the course of the season). A series of great plays will have everyone thinking that one of them is destined to win rookie of the year and go to the Pro Bowl. One rough game later and fans will be calling that same rookie a bust and want him buried on the bottom of the depth chart. Maybe one of them will turn out to be a top-notch starter this year. But it’s better to be prepared for some heartbreak from Thomas, Amerson, and Rambo.

Tarik El-Bashir: While it would be great for one of the rookie DBs to become a reliable starter in ’13, the good news is that the Redskins can survive if it doesn’t happen. An improved pass rush – linebacker Brian Orakpo returns and the line has a renewed focus on generating a bigger push – should help the secondary immensely. And with veteran corners DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson and E.J. Biggers as well as conglomerate of safeties led by Brandon Meriweather, the returning players on the backend, on paper at least, figure to be a better bunch on their own. Add to that a trio of talented rookies, and it’s got the makings of a much-improved unit. Best case scenario is this: the rookies serve as understudies early and, then get more playing time and responsibility as they become more comfortable. With Hall, Wilson, Biggers and Meriweather set to become free agents, the rookies’ time to shine will arrive soon enough. No need to rush them and risk damaging their confidence.

Upcoming on 20 questions

  • Question 5 Saturday: Can Brandon Meriweather get it done for a full season?
  • Question 4 Sunday: Who will the depth chart at right tackle look like?
  • Question 3 Monday: Is Orakpo primed for a big season?