Thoughts and observations: David Amerson

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Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim

 

  1. David Amerson has the measurable and as one longtime GM told me earlier in the week, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan likes to draft off measurables. It can lead to a boom or bust approach, though it’s hard to fault a lot of what they’ve done in the draft since he arrived in Washington. They’ve missed on some guys, but not in a boom-or-bust way; at least not with high picks. Jarvis Jenkins remains a work-in-progress.
  2. Amerson also has production, with 18 interceptions in two years. So it’s not as if the Redskins drafted him solely based on what he did at the scouting combine or at his Pro Day. As numerous people have told me, and others, over the years Shanahan goes a lot off the flash plays. Amerson had plenty and watching his games again some plays definitely catch your eye. A lot.
  3. Amerson told us Friday night that he was caught trying to sit on routes too often this past year, leading to issues. A game vs. Tennessee is Exhibit A in that regard.
  4. I talked to two football people I trust, guys who have spend enough years in the game as players or coaches who had slightly different opinions of Amerson. One, a longtime coach, is not enamored with Amerson at all. The other, a former player, thinks Amerson has a chance to be really good – If he becomes more disciplined. Others are mixed on him as they should be; Amerson’s film is mixed too.
  5. I rarely saw Amerson in press coverage, at least not in the four or five games that I was able to watch. The Redskins say he’s good in press. I’ll take their word for it because it was not visible or I watched the wrong games. And the one play where he lined up close, Maryland ran a bubble screen to his side and that led to one issue that must be corrected: sloppy tackling. Amerson took an inside angle, but lowered his head too much and did not do a good job wrapping the receiver. Missed tackle; big gain. That was a pattern I saw in several games, often from poor technique. In this defense, corners must do a good job in run support and being aggressive in that area; it’s one reason they eventually soured on Carlos Rogers. Taking on lead blockers is another job and that’s one Amerson did not do as well as other corners I saw. Both DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are good at sacrificing themselves to take out lead blockers and sometimes make big plays because of this desire. Knock them all you want; they are tough. There was one time I saw Amerson have a chance to do this and he barely made contact with the lineman, allowing the back enough of a gap to squirt through. I would not describe him as physical; one person who played DB in the NFL and scouted Amerson called him “soft.” That person can get away with calling him that; I can’t so I won’t (guys who write for a living should not call someone on a football field soft. Ever.). I just know this area must be corrected.
  6. Ah, but the good of Amerson occurred on the play after the bubble screen. The receiver ran a crossing route and Amerson read it perfectly off the snap. It wasn’t the best route, but Amerson was on the receiver’s outside shoulder and when the ball was thrown (why?), he pounced for the interception that he returned for a touchdown. The kid can run and has good hands. If you’re a head coach who likes flashy plays then this is one for you.
  7. Here’s another one: Against Louisville in the bowl game after his sophomore season. Actually, there are two. The first one showed excellent closing speed (one reason, to me, that he gets this? Very good backpedal, which allows him a burst toward the ball). Anyway, the ball was poorly thrown on the play – to where the receiver was, not to where he was going. This was all Amerson needed to make a good break and basically outjump the receiver, reaching down over his head. Then he returned it for a TD. Later in the game, it looked like he was in a cover-3, a pass was thrown down the middle of the field and he made a good read to get there. So did three or four teammates. But Amerson tracked the ball well and outjumped everyone for the pick. This guy wants to get the ball. He’s like a scorer in basketball who just wants to score. Now he must improve other aspects of his game (discipline, tackling).
  8. Double moves definitely got him in trouble last season, especially vs. Tennessee. He allowed one long touchdown because he sat on the out route and the receiver ran an out-and-up for an easy touchdown catch. Later in that game he sat on a shorter route, perhaps anticipating a crossing route and got beat down the seam. However, what’s unclear on that play is if he anticipated safety help. There was no safety aligned in the middle, but Amerson threw his hands up at the end of the play as if something had gone wrong or there was a missed assignment.
  9. Amerson often played a yard or two deeper than the other corner, whether in off man or zone. In both cases he was occasionally nine yards off the line while the other corner would be seven. That certainly gives him a longer chance to read a QB, but it also leads to easy pitch-and-catches underneath. In the NFL, that can lead to one juke, a whiff and a touchdown. You can’t play that far off in this league (or “Up here,” as Joe Gibbs liked to say).
  10. Is this a good pick? He was not on my list of corners I liked a lot for some of the reasons above. My experience scouting for an NFL team? Zero. So it doesn’t matter what I think. Here’s the other thing: It’s impossible to get a great feel for a kid based off a TV feed or without talking to his coaches, etc. You must factor that into any equation because it does limit your ability to fully analyze a DB’s game. I also know you have to project, so you can’t just go by what you see. But I do see what Shanahan likes about him and now it’s up to Raheem Morris to turn Amerson into a complete player. He does not have to be a starter right away, but he will have to play. He did play gunner at N.C. State so he can help on special teams. If he develops, Amerson could become a very good player. But he has to develop.

 

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