With the NFL Draft completed, Redskins.com is breaking down the team's roster as it prepares for the 2020 campaign. Here are the positions that have been covered so far:
Next up are the safeties. Landon Collins is coming back after leading the team with 117 tackles, but he's the sole member of the position with consistent starting experience from last year. Troy Apke and Deshazor Everett saw limited action in 2019, and both are returning at the back providing depth. Jeremy Reaves and Simeon Thomas -- both listed as defensive backs on the roster -- also saw some playing time in a combined nine games.
The Redskins turned to free agency to find a starting free safety and signed Sean Davis away from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Injures forced Davis to sit out most of last season, but he has started in 41 of 48 games played and has five interception in four seasons.
Rounding out the roster is Arkansas safety Kamren Curl, who the Redskins picked up in the seventh round of the NFL Draft in April. Curl was a three-year starter with the Razorbacks, and he can play both safety and cornerback.
- Kenny Ladler
- Montae Nicholson
- Sean Davis
- Kamren Curl
The Redskins made their splash in last year's free agency when they brought in Collins on a 6-year, $84 million deal, and he did more than enough to earn that contract in his first year with the team. He played in 15 games, deflected four passes and forced two fumbles.
It's clear head coach Ron Rivera and the new coaching staff believes in him, because he is only Day 1 starter from the secondary they kept with Quinton Dunbar, Josh Norman and Montae Nicholson all getting either traded or released this offseason.
That's when the Redskins decided to sign Davis, who Rivera believes can come in and be an immediate starter.
"He's a guy that we think can match very well with the guys that we have in the secondary already," Rivera said. "We feel very strongly about him."
Davis grew in Washington, D.C. and played at the University of Maryland before getting drafted by the Steelers in the second round. And he already has something in common with Collins: they both grew up idolizing Sean Taylor.
"He was probably the biggest influence on my football game," Davis told local reporters after he and the Redskins officially agreed to terms. "He was just a beast, he was the best and I've tried to emulate my game after him."
With both of their starters firmly in place, the Redskins liked Curl's position flexibility enough to draft him as a developmental project. Rivera said they wanted to find out if Curl could cover receivers in the slot, and Curl believes he has the "football I.Q." to do it.
"I learn defenses really fast," he said. "I like taking the ball away, being the fastest guy on the defense and going for the ball."
Curl said he has been watching highlights from Collins' career dating all the way back to his time at the University of Alabama. Now, he'll be playing alongside and learning from him.
"It's going to be surreal."
WHAT TO WATCH:
The Redskins don't have a problem with depth at safety. With Collins and Davis as the starters, Apke, Everett and the rest of the position will see some snaps as backups and provide depth. That will also allow Curl to learn and be ready to make his debut when and if he is called upon.
The Redskins and Davis are confident he can provide what the team needs, partly because he has experience at multiple positions in the secondary.
"I just like being on the field, honestly," Davis said. "I feel like I can play any position you really want me to. As long as I'm on the field, I feel like I'm going to make an impact on defense. But just bouncing around, I feel like it's just evolved my game."
The key to how successful the position will be depends on how well Collins and Davis can work together. They hadn't formally met prior to Davis signing with the team, but he already knows that he's "going to be the deep guy and Landon's going to be down low for the most part."
Having two starting safeties that model themselves after one of the best players in franchise history is certainly a benefit, and it should get fans excited about what the duo can become next year. A position that entered the offseason with questions could easily become a strength on defense once the season begins.