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Free agency, draft provide intriguing safety options for Redskins

The Washington Redskins continue to seek help at safety, though they could help the position by finally bolstering other areas on defense. There's usually a trickle-down effect that can help turn average safeties into good ones. Sometimes it's just a change in teaching methods that helps, too. The Redskins are making decisions now as to which positions require immediate help -- and, therefore, a lot of cash. It's debatable that they see safety as one they must throw a lot of money at, knowing there are other ways to improve the position. However, they clearly can upgrade at any spot defensively and safety would be no different.

Here's a look at the safety position:

On the roster: Will Blackmon, DeAngelo Hall, Deshazor Everett, Su'a Cravens, Josh Evans, Earl Wolff

Free agents: Duke Ihenacho, Donte Whitner

Analysis: The Redskins could use more help here, though mostly in the form of young players. I’d rather see them spend big to fix the front seven and invest a little wiser in the back end than vice versa. The Redskins do have one intriguing option with Cravens moving to safety – he’s best used in the box, partially comparable to his nickel linebacker role last season. But Cravens has told multiple people he’s more at home at safety. He plays with good instincts, quickness and passion. If he works out, there’s one problem solved. The Redskins will have to make a decision on Hall, who will count approximately $5 million against the cap. That’s a hefty sum for someone who has missed as much time as he has recently. Blackmon progressed at a new position, but played hurt down the stretch. It’s not an easy move -- it’s amazing how many people think it is just because they played corner. But his value is in his versatility and if nothing else he can be used in multiple packages. Everett plays hard and tough, but he too is still making a transition from corner. They'll have a new position coach, which some players have said should help (depending who it is, of course).

How they should address: Either in free agency or the draft. My preference: Draft another safety, as much to get more youth at this spot. If Blackmon does play this year, he’s in the last year of his deal and would be 33 years old. They need a young player to develop.

Top free agents to consider: Eric Berry, Tony Jefferson, Barry Church, Johnathan Cyprien. It’s hard to imagine the Chiefs allowing Berry to get away. Jefferson is an intriguing option (who has mostly been a strong safety), though the Cardinals would be wise to re-sign him. But he’s only 25, so you’d have a player just entering his prime. For the most part, I’m not a fan of giving safeties huge money just because they’re so dependent on others – the pass rush and corners especially. But if he’s an impact player? That’s different; but there truly aren’t many of them at this position. Church played well, but is a strong safety. With Cravens, there’s no need to sign a veteran. (Keep in mind: the Redskins have used their safeties to be interchangeable, though one typically is a strong safety and one a free safety.) Cyprien, too, is a strong safety. Another name to consider: Atlanta’s Ricardo Allen, a former corner who played corner in college but has played safety the last three years. However, he’s a restricted free agent.

Top draft picks to consider: Malik Hooker, Budda Baker, Marcus Williams, Marcus Maye. I’m only looking at players considered more of a free safety. Hooker would be the only one of this group worthy of being drafted in the first round. He has terrific instincts and playmaking ability and good size (would be perfect in a Seattle-style defense, but good in any). Baker brings a ton of energy and toughness, though he’s undersized. Still, he can also cover some in the slot. Williams is not much of a hitter, but has excellent cover skills. Maye also has good coverage skills.