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Roster Review: Cornerbacks

With free agency and the NFL Draft fast approaching, Redskins.com breaks down the Redskins' roster position-by-position and identifies potential need areas. Up next: Cornerbacks.

The Redskins face several critical decisions at the cornerback position this offseason.

Overall, the Redskins' secondary struggled last season. The defense was ranked 31st last year and 23rd in pass defense. Without a consistent pass rush, the secondary yielded 20 pass plays of 30 yards or more.

Carlos Rogers, the Redskins' first-round draft pick in 2005, emerged as a regular starter last season, missing just one game due to a fractured thumb.

Rogers finished with 88 tackles (71 solo), fifth-best on the team, and one interception.

With injuries to veteran Shawn Springs, Rogers had to step up as the defense's No. 1 cornerback. The results? Mixed. Rogers, always a physical cornerback, struggled in coverage at times. He said after the season that he hopes to work with future Hall of Fame cornerbacks Darrell Green and Deion Sanders to refine his skills.

Springs, meantime, struggled through an injury plagued season.

It started in preseason when he underwent abdominal surgery. Sidelined for a month, he aggravated a groin injury when he tried to come back too soon. In late November, Springs missed a game due to a hamstring injury.

Finally, in Week 16 at St. Louis, Springs suffered a fractured shoulder blade and he ended his season on injured reserve.

Despite all that, Springs was clearly a solid performer when he was able to get on the field. He played in nine games, with eight starts, and recorded 44 tackles (36 solo), one interception and one forced fumble.

Kenny Wright was signed last year to serve as the nickel cornerback. But with Springs sidelined, he was forced into a starting role. Like most members of the Redskins' secondary, Wright struggled at times. He added veteran experience to a relatively young secondary.

Wright started 9-of-16 games and finished with 43 tackles (33 solo) and one interception. He enters the offseason as an unrestricted free agent, so his future in Washington is uncertain.

Remarkably, Ade Jimoh has been a member of the Redskins' roster since 2003. He may not be the most talented defender, but he has had his share of ups and downs in his four-year career.

Jimoh was a mainstay on special teams units last season, but his role increased on defense due to Springs' injury woes. He had eight tackles (seven solo) serving as a nickel and dime package cornerback. On punt and kick coverage, he logged 20 tackles and one fumble recovery.

Jimoh is also an unrestricted free agent this offseason. His future with the team is uncertain.

Last May, John Eubanks signed with the Redskins as an undrafted rookie free agent and earned a spot on the team's practice squad. When Springs was placed on injured reserve in Week 16, Eubanks was called up to the roster.

Eubanks made his NFL debut in the season finale against the New York Giants, seeing action as a nickel cornerback and on special teams.

Leigh Torrence signed with the Redskins in late December, but he did not see any game action. He concluded his second NFL season. In 2005, he played in 10 games with the Atlanta Falcons, serving on special teams and a reserve cornerback.


#### Positional Analysis

With just six cornerbacks on the roster, and two on the verge of free agency, the Redskins could overhaul the position this offseason.

Rogers appears set at one cornerback position. Coaches will monitor his progress in off-season work, though. Rogers will need to continue to develop his skills so that he can take the next step in his career.

Springs has been mentioned as a candidate for a contract restructuring this offseason. The negotiations could be key to Springs' future in Washington.

If Springs departs, the Redskins would need to find a replacement in free agency or the NFL Draft.

With Wright and Jimoh both pending free agents, the Redskins could have several new faces at cornerback next season.

Wright struggled at times, but he could return should the team need veteran experience in the secondary. Jimoh has been a special teams standout throughout his career; it remains to be seen whether that's enough to earn him a new contract with the Redskins.

Eubanks and Torrence are a pair of young cornerbacks who could compete for playing time this offseason.


THREE CORNERBACKS ELIGIBLE FOR FREE AGENCY

As of Feb. 27, 2007; names listed are in no particular order

  • Nate Clements, Buffalo Bills: With Asante Samuel getting the franchise tag in New Englands, Clements is the top cornerback available. He has 23 interceptions in six seasons with the Bills, and he has played for Redskins' coaches Gregg Williams and Jerry Gray.
  • Rod Hood, Philadelphia Eagles: A fourth-year player, Hood played along-side Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell at Auburn in 2001-02. He established himself as nickel corner in Philly, logging four interceptions the last two years, and he is looking for a starting job.
  • David Macklin, Arizona Cardinals: Macklin is a seven-year veteran who began his career in Indianapolis. After two strong seasons in 2004-05, he started seven games in 2006, logging 34 tackles and one interception.


THREE CORNERBACKS AVAILABLE IN THE NFL DRAFT

As of Feb. 27, 2007; names listed are in no particular order

  • Leon Hall, Michigan: Hall is regarded as a solid cover corner, and despite his 5-11, 195-pound frame, he's physical enough to play with taller wide receivers. As a senior, he recorded three interceptions, 15 pass break-ups and 45 tackles as a senior.
  • Daymeion Hughes, California: Hughes had the buzz during Senior Bowl week, but he suffered a hamstring injury and sat out the game. His speed is a question mark, but at 6-2 and 188 pounds, he plays physical. As a senior, Hughes had eight interceptions, 11 pass break-ups and 67 tackles.
  • Josh Wilson, Maryland: A native of Hyattsville, Md., Wilson developed into one of the nation's top cornerbacks last season, recording 55 tackles, one interception and two sacks. He started two years at Maryland.
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