Washington Redskins 2017 first quarter positional grades: Defense
The safeties have been one of the more volatile positions on the defensive front. At the beginning of the season, the Redskins had two new starters at safety in D.J. Swearinger and Su’a Cravens. However, Cravens unexpectedly retired then wanted to return to the team, but the Redskins placed him on the reserve/left squad list. So in a crazy turn, Cravens will not be able to play in 2017 and may have a chance to return in 2018.
In his stead, the Redskins have used a platoon of Deshazor Everett and rookie Montae Nicholson. Everett is a special teams ace who excels as a tackler. He’s a big hitter who has made more impact in the run game. However, he has had issues in coverage this season, so he shouldn’t be relied on to be a starter. He’s a better fit as a No. 3 guy at the position.
Meanwhile, Nicholson has had an unexpectedly positive impact despite being a fourth round rookie. Nicholson was considered to be a raw player with the tools to be successful at the NFL level. But nobody thought he would be ready to produce. Nicholson has looked very good in coverage thus far, and he had a key interception in the team’s upset win over the Oakland Raiders.
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The Redskins have to hope that Nicholson’s solid play can continue. Otherwise, their unit may suffer. They have decent depth, but being without the departed Will Blackmon, the aforementioned Cravens, and veteran DeAngelo Hall could impact them. Granted, only Cravens could be a capable starter at this point, but they would all provide some extra depth.
Right now, this is definitely the weakest unit on the defense. While Swearinger and Nicholson have looked good, Everett has been only okay. And Stefan McClure has mostly just played on special teams. The Redskins safeties have upside, but for now, they are just an average unit.