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Need to Know: Can the Redskins get a starting safety in the draft?

Need to Know: Can the Redskins get a starting safety in the draft?

INDIANAPOLIS—Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 21, 17 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

While I’m here at the NFL Combine this week, I’m going to change it up a bit. I’m going to pose the question each morning centered around the draft and the position group that will be talking to the media on that day. You can find the daily schedule here. Up today, the defensive line.

Can the Redskins find a 2015 starting safety in the draft?

The Redskins have a need at safety.

Yes, that line was copied and pasted from each of the last half dozen or so offseasons.

It seems that the Redskins are always in search of a long-term solution at safety. Or perhaps they haven’t been searching for a permanent answer, generally content to patch the position with veterans who are past their primes (Ryan Clark, O.J. Atogwe) or limited (Reed Doughty) or injury/suspension prone (Brandon Meriweather).

With Clark announcing his retirement and Meriweather a free agent, the Redskins have the “help wanted” sign up at post safety positions. With Scot McCloughan committed to building through the draft, the patch jobs at safety will eventually come to an end. But will it end this year?

Both McCloughan and Jay Gruden said that the Redskins will take the best available player in the draft. The odds of finding two safeties who can start immediately are slim even if you are drafting for need. Finding two who happen to be the best available player on the board when your pick comes up is nearly impossible.

They will have to either find at least on safety in free agency or hand the job to Phillip Thomas. The 2013 fourth-round pick is better suited to strong safety so if they do plug him in they would be looking for someone to play free.

According to Mike Mayock of the NFL Network and other draft analysts this is a particularly weak class of safeties. That doesn’t mean that the Redskins won’t be able to find one; just because draft analysts aren’t impressed doesn’t mean that there isn’t a fit for the Redskins.

The consensus top safety in the draft is Landon Collins of Alabama. However, he probably isn’t good enough to be the best available player with the fifth pick but he will be gone long before the Redskins’ second-round pick rolls around.

Among the safeties the Redskins might look like in the second or third rounds are Cody Prewitt of Ole Miss, Chris Hackett of TCU, and Derron Smith of Fresno State.

It will be interesting to see how McCloughan handles this situation. He doesn’t want to keep the Redskins on their habit of filling holes with free agents. But there is no guarantee that a even a second- or third-round pick will be ready to start the season opener. They will have to have a Plan B in place and that probably means a free agent signing of some sort. I doubt we’ll see a big-money, long term deal; rather, it looks like another patch until a younger player can be developed.

Timeline

—It’s been 55 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 204 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 17; Redskins offseason workouts start 58; 2015 NFL Draft 68

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

As the Redskins settle into the offseason without both an offensive and defensive coordinator, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler debate who will get the jobs, and when they will be announced. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0: CORNERING THE MARKET

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Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

The Redskins have interviewed some high-profile candidates for their open defensive coordinator position. When it was reported that they will meet with former Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, the reaction among the fans was, “Who?”

Let’s take a look at what Tarver’s qualifications are to get the job of running the Redskins’ defense.

Before becoming a coordinator: At the age of 22, Tarver took a coaching job at West Valley College in California, and did that while earning his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Santa Clara. After that he was a graduate assistant at UCLA for three years before getting into the NFL in 2001, when the 49ers hired him as a quality control coach. Tarver worked his way up to outside linebackers coach in 2005 and did that job until 2010, when he was let go went Mike Singletary was fired as the head coach. After a year as the defensive coordinator at Stanford, Dennis Allen hired Tarver to run the Raiders defense in 2012.

More Redskins: Early first-round draft possibilities

Note: If you want more complete stats on Tarver’s defenses check out his page on Pro Football Reference. DVOA stats via Football Outsiders. A negative DVOA percentage is better than a positive number. Zero is average.

For players, * designates Pro Bowl selection, + designates first-team All-Pro

2012 Raiders (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,672 (18th), points 443 (28th), takeaways 19 (26th), 3rd down 39.1% (20th), DVOA 12.5% 29th
Notable players: DT Richard Seymour, DE Lamarr Houston

It should be noted that Allen had a defensive background so he had a hand in these numbers. This team just wasn’t very good as indicated by the fact that Seymour, at age 33, was one of their best defensive players.

2013 Raiders (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,918 (22nd), points 453 (29th), takeaways 22 (21st), 3rd down 43.1% (28th), DVOA 10.3% (26th)
Notable players: S Charles Woodson

They did make an effort to shore up the defense by bringing back Woodson and drafting cornerback D.J. Hayden in the first round. But Hayden only played in eight games and Woodson could only contribute so much at age 37. The pass defense struggled, ranking 29th in DVOA.

Related: Redskins offensive coordinator resume: Matt Cavanaugh

2014 Raiders (3-13)

Rankings: 5,721 (21st), points 452 (32nd), takeaways 14 (30th), 3rd down 38.5% (14th), DVOA 6.3% (26th)
Notable players: LB Khalil Mack, S Woodson

Allen was fired after an 0-4 start and Tony Sparano took over as interim head coach the rest of the way. Sparano has an offensive background so perhaps Tarver is more fully accountable for these results than those in other seasons. They did draft Mack with the fifth overall pick but his impact as a rookie was limited as recorded four sacks. Hayden again missed half of the season and, again, the defense was near the bottom of the NFL.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.