October 20, 2019

Washington Redskins 2014 Season Preview Part IX: Cornerbacks

All this week leading up to the Washington Redskins 2014 season opener against the Houston Texans on Sept. 7, District Sports Page is taking an in-depth look at the players that will make up the 53-man roster to start the season in a position-by-position breakdown.

In Part I, Neal Dalal took a look at the Quarterback position.
In Part II, Eric Hobeck examined the situation at running back.
In Part III, Joe Mercer previewed the wide receiver corps.
In Part IV, Joe Ziegengeist evaluated the offensive line.
In Part V, Joe Mercer reviewed Jordan Reed and the tight ends.
In Part VI, Neil previewed the defensive line.
In Part VII, Joe Miller previewed the inside linebackers.
In Part VIII Joe Z had our preview of the outside linebackers.

Here is our preview of the cornerbacks.


 

DeAngelo Hall makes a tackle against the Vikings in 2013. (photo Brian Murphy)

DeAngelo Hall makes a tackle against the Vikings in 2013. (photo Brian Murphy)

Far too many times last season, the much-beleaguered secondary of the Washington Redskins found itself trapped in football’s version of Groundhog Day.

Only there was nothing comical about the unit’s weekly miscues, ranging from missed tackles to untimely personal foul penalties to baffling miscommunication. And it is hard to crack a smile while allowing opposing quarterbacks to rack up 3,896 yards and 29 touchdowns.

However, there is reason for optimism heading into the 2014 season, and not just because Josh Wilson has taken his tired act elsewhere.

For the first time in what seems like forever, it is the Redskins and not one of their NFC East foes, who, through some tactical draft day moves, have armed themselves with talented, high-ceiling athletes who can play the cornerback position alongside DeAngelo Hall.

Hall may be the most polarizing player on the Redskins roster. Playing all 16 games in each of the past four seasons, notching 357 tackles and 17 INTs, Hall continues to be a productive player at his position. Another casualty of last season’s epic defensive collapse, Hall was often left on his own, a victim of poor safety play, miscommunication, and missed assignments, but somehow still managed to make plays (four INTs and three forced fumbles). Widely ridiculed for his boom-or-bust style of play, the outspoken Hall is considered around the league to be a lower second-tier corner but will remain Washington’s No. 1 corner until David Amerson is ready to unseat him. There is no reason Hall can’t add another four to six interceptions to his total in 2014.

With Wilson gone, Amerson will start opposite Hall, and should be considered an upgrade. Amerson has size (6’1/205), terrific ball skills (13 INTs as a sophomore at NC State and two as a rookie with the Skins), and has shown this preseason that he’s finally willing to get his jersey dirty in the run game—an area he often shied away from in 2013. After an offseason to better learn the system and work on keeping his eyes out of the backfield, a sophomore leap should be expected. This should be the season Amerson overtakes Hall as the team’s top corner.

Bashaud Breeland, the No. 102 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has so far outplayed free-agent signing Tracy Porter and veteran E.J. Biggers. Although thought a lock to make the team due to his draft status, Breeland has solidified the front office’s decision to use its fourth-round pick to select him, and should be worked into packages early in the season. Could be Redskins nickel corner by December.

Porter is penciled in as the team’s slot corner, as was expected when he was signed, but it will be interesting to monitor his effectiveness as he returns from a shoulder surgery that caused him to miss the offseason program. Porter has been ineffective in limited action and is no lock as nickel. Porter’s experience appears to be his only positive, which will not be enough to hold off Biggers and Breeland for long.

Biggers, who the Skins brought back on a one-year deal after playing in all 16 games last season at both safety and corner, has quietly worked himself into the No. 3 CB mix behind Hall and Amerson. Although mostly inconsistent during his four years in the league, his versatility makes him fairly valuable in a crowded but underachieving secondary. His experience with Jim Haslett’s scheme gives him the advantage over Breeland.

Combining the addition of Ryan Clark at safety, which will add some much needed cohesiveness and leadership, with a retooled defensive front seven capable of getting pressure on the opposing quarterback, should allow Washington’s passing defense to finish in the top-15 in 2014.

About Joe Mercer

Joe Mercer is a Contributor to District Sports Page. Joe is an aspiring author with close to 20 years experience in the newspaper business, starting as a sports reporter covering the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts for a small daily newspaper in Barrie, Ontario. A Redskins fanatic since the early 80s, Joe has often made the 12-hour journey from his hometown 45 minutes north of Toronto to Washington for both training camp and regular season games. You can follow Joe on Twitter @stylesmcfresh.

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