By Kevin Ross II
Name: David Amerson – CB – #39
Weight: 205 lbs.
Hometown: Greensboro, North Carolina
College: North Carolina State
With so much focus being put on Robert Griffin III, it’s easy to overlook just how bad the defense performed on several occasions last season. To be direct, the defensive backfield was downright abysmal a year ago. They were injured, they couldn’t cover, and they were considered to be one of the league’s worst units. Out of frustration, team followers attributed the majority of the poor coverage to ex-Redskin safety Madieu Williams, but generally, most understand that the secondary’s problems extend far beyond Williams. Especially considering that opposing teams scored 74 percent of their points through the air last season.
The Redskins organization is hopeful that rookie CB David Amerson will soon become the remedy to a secondary that, last season, ranked 30th in pass defense. Team officials understand that a cornerback with elite talent can easily mask the deficiencies of an inept secondary.
Amerson is a big cornerback with even bigger potential.
His entire skill set was put on display in the 2011 season, when he was dominant for North Carolina State. As a sophomore, David Amerson led the nation in interceptions with 13 and received the Jack Tatum trophy, which is given to the nation’s best defensive back.
Had Amerson declared for the draft following that season, he would have likely been the second cornerback taken behind LSU’s Morris Claiborne.
Instead, Amerson stayed in school for his junior season, and had a down year by his standards. And this is what can sometimes happen to a young player who experiences an abundance of success. You forget just how hard you worked to accomplish success, and your play suffers. But luckily for Redskins nation, this happened in college and not in the NFL. Amerson was humbled by the experience and has worked extremely hard with Washington. He looks as if he has returned to his 2011 form, and may prove to be a steal for the Redskins, who drafted him with the 51st selection.
For the entire training camp, Amerson has taken first team reps and is by all means a starter. If he continues to shine during the preseason, Amerson will likely boot Josh Wilson out of the starting lineup. But in order to be successful as a starter, the coaching staff has made it clear that Amerson needs to improve at press coverage.
At NC State, Amerson was asked to play “off-man” coverage, which would typically place him seven to nine yards off of a receiver. This would allow him to see routes developing and to actually beat the receiver to his spot.
The Redskins employ plenty of off-man coverage, especially in their zone packages, but the coaching staff would like to see Amerson improve at press-coverage. And they are using the preseason to evaluate his techniques and to see exactly how to use him when the regular season begins.
Amerson is off to a quick start in Washington, and has been outstanding in the preseason. The franchise is hopeful that his great potential will translate to him being one of the top cornerbacks in the National Football League.
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Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.