Kiper says safety class not deep

The Redskins have a big need at safety with no legitimate potential starters under contract for 2014. Both Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty are pending free agents.

Rookie Bacarri Rambo did not show that he should start again in his second season. Phillip Thomas might be fine at strong safety, but after missing his entire rookie season it's hard to know for sure.

Even if they re-sign Meriweather, he comes with a risk: His hits could land him a long suspension. And Doughty is better as a backup/special teamer.

The top-free agent safeties are Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward; both will be expensive. Miami's Chris Clemons probably won't cost as much, nor would a guy like Carolina's Mike Mitchell, coming off his best season.

But if they want another safety in the draft, then Northern Illinois' Jimmy Ward is worth a look. Kiper listed Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor as the top two safeties.

"Jimmy is an outstanding playmaker," ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. "He's not a big safety, but he fits today's NFL with his coverage ability and he makes so many impact plays. He could go second or third round, but he's going to be a fast riser. I like him. [The safety class] is not tremendously deep. You could argue he's the third best safety."