The case for a safety

The Redskins knew they had to upgrade their safety position last year. But they couldn't--and they still finished with a top-10 defense. They also still want to improve the position, which is why they signed Matt Bowen and it's why they'll strongly consider taking a safety in the draft.

The Redskins want to improve their speed at the position, something Bowen does (he runs a 4.46 40-yard dash). It's why they want to replace Ifeanyi Ohalete, who is not fast enough in their eyes--and David Terrell is just bad, a poor tackler.

Washington doesn't need an all-Pro at the position, just someone who is consistent. That's something else Ohalete wasn't. One play he'd be in the right spot, the next he wouldn't. And one reason the Redskins allowed too many big plays was because of the safety play. They also don't make enough plays on their own, at least not enough to justify another year of starting. Also, they don't think Ohalete improved enough in his second year and another year like that makes him ''just a guy'' in their mind.

When the Redskins scout college safeties, this is what they're looking for: they want someone who can play strong or free because of all the shifting and motions offenses now use. They want a good athlete who is a sure tackler. Next they look at range and intelligence, because they have to make all the calls. Lastly, they determine whether or not they can play man coverage.

The Redskins had hoped last year's fifth-round pick Andre Lott could become a starter. But he blew his chance in training camp and took a while coming around. Also, he didn't make a lot of plays on special teams, leaving them concerned if that was because of age, lack of instincts or desire.



Scouting the safeties

A scouting report, with input from the front office and coaching staff, on potential second- and third-round picks.

Name: Michael Doss

School: Ohio State

Size: 5-foot-10, 207 pounds

Speed: 4.55

The Redskins analysis: ''Mature, instinctive and productive. Been a winner in high school and in college. Does a good job in coverage, but might eye the quarterback for too long. People could run double moves on him but overall I like him. He has outstanding technique and athletic skills. But how much will he improve?''

Likelihood of picking him: Not high. Doss is one of the top rated safeties and probably will be gone by the time Washington picks in the second round (No. 44). Another reason they might not get him: there are other safeties they like that they can get in the next round. 


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