Did they get better? That's the 'big' question (pardon the terrible pun). The Redskins made their first addition to a secondary that has never-ending questions by signing E.J. Biggers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Biggers, a 7th round pick from Western Michigan, is entering his fifth professional season. Biggers turns 26 in June and had an interception, two forced fumbles and 41 solo tackles last season. He started 12 of the 13 games in which he played. He missed the Bucs first three games because of a foot injury under new head coach Greg Schiano.
Schiano replaced current Redskins defensive-backs coach, Raheem Morris. Morris, as a first-year head coach, drafted Biggers and then helped him develop over the next three years. The 'fit' is beyond obvious.
On the surface, you have to wonder why the Bucs would give up on Biggers when they have plenty of salary cap room and a need for cornerbacks as evidenced by their reportedly strong interest in New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis.
Furthermore, while an exception to every rule exists, Biggers was a 7th round pick for a reason. That doesn't mean he can't play - but enough teams agreed with a consensus that he was a long term developmental project.
Morris left a voicemail on my cell phone telling ESPN 980 on Wednesday night that Biggers is a "great kid" and that he actually discovered Biggers watching Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas at Western Michigan. Morris says that Biggers was "everything I thought, he really came on and took a business-like approach."
Morris said Biggers has "elite speed - he can run, cover," but one of his areas of improvement would be "ball skills." However, Morris feels "he's gotten so much better, as a ball skill guy and learning how to track the football."
If you are looking for more good news - Biggers graded out very well in 2012 according to ProFootballFocus.com https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2013/01/01/free-agent-cornerbacks/ at a plus 3.8, while playing 816 snaps.
Based on PFF's rankings, only 4 free agent cornerbacks (Antoine Winfield, Chris Houston, Terence Newman, Sheldon Brown) had higher rating than Biggers did amongst corners who played more than 800 snaps.
That would seem to back up more of what Raheem Morris told ESPN 980 on Wednesday night, about Biggers. "He has elite qualities. He's a fast guy, who could really stick you in coverage."
Biggers made his 2012 debut against the Redskins in Week 4, and was solid in pass coverage according to ProFootballFocus.com, at a plus 2.0 overall and a plus 1.7 in pass coverage. I don't remember anything impactful that Biggers did in that game, but I am more focused on what the Redskins are doing - as opposed to the opponent.
Overall, his run defense seems to need an improvement, as he graded out a minus 4.6, but his pass coverage was a plus 6.2 overall. He sacked Matt Ryan in Week 12, but also was credited with 13 missed tackles by ProFootballFocus.com.
Biggers is listed as playing both sides of the field, and another source that saw him play on a regular basis suggested to ESPN 980 that Biggers "stays with guys very well, but doesn't find the ball." The person views Biggers as more of a third cornerback, with spot start ability.
The Redskins now have Josh Wilson, Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield, Jerome Murphy, Devin Holland, Korey Lindsey and Biggers under contract at the cornerback position. Biggers is listed at 6-0, 185.
Chris Russell // SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com // www.twitter.com/russellmania980