Round 5 – Texas FS Caden Sterns
The most glaring weakness on the Washington Football Team isn’t quarterback, and it isn’t MIKE linebacker. It’s free safety.
With Washington running zone coverage over 60 percent of the time last season, their abysmal safety play was evident throughout the year. There was poor tackling, poor coverage no matter the scheme, combined with obvious inexperience. Washington needs someone who’s comfortable in every coverage they choose to run in 2021.
While Caden Sterns isn’t the most versatile player in this draft, he’s definitely one of the most comfortable players out there in coverage. He’s no stranger to being a single-high safety, but cool, calm, and collected when defending the deep third of the field. Washington should take a swing on the junior from Texas.
Sterns isn’t the most imposing safety at 6’0″, 207 pounds, but his sideline-to-sideline range in coverage, combined with his solid tackling ability and understanding of tackling angles, is more than a foundation for success.
Sterns posted a run defense grade of 76.4 according to Pro Football Focus, while simultaneously defending passes when asked. His forced incompletion rate was 15 percent, but he also shined as the last line of defense. He had an average depth of run tackle of nearly seven yards, and placed in the better half of all safeties in his class in terms of missed tackle rate.
Sterns isn’t a versatile player, but he knows his strengths and tends to play well when given the opportunity to play to those strengths. He’s quick and effective enough to get to the line of scrimmage in a hurry to make a tackle in run support, but also fluid and instinctive enough in zone coverage to defend at a high level.
The Washington Football Team have a potential starter, surely a special teams player in Caden Sterns with a selection in the fifth round.