Mike Reed recruited Redskins second-round pick David Amerson to North Carolina State, then coached him the next three years. He saw Amerson intercept 13 passes two years ago and get burned more than he’d like this past fall. Reed, now the Clemson defensive backs coach, obviously likes his former player.
Q: What are the Redskins getting in David?
A: They’re getting a very competitive, very rangy athletic kid who in my mind will be a great professional.
Q: What makes you say that?
A: When you’re talking about physical attributes, you’ve got a kid who’s 6-1, 6-2 with a long wingspan with great ball skills. Good feet. Very competitive and athletic. He’s still a little bit raw so he still has more to learn about the game. I think he quieted some doubters about his speed in running a sub 4.3 at the combine, which I knew he could run. I guess what scouts saw this year were the plays where he got beat deep. I think the thing David has to understand is he has to make sure that with everything there’s a process and it starts with eyes and techniques. When your eyes and technique aren’t where they’re supposed to be, that’s what happens.
Q: David made it seem like he was really hungry to make more plays after intercepting 13 passes two years ago. Is that how you saw it?
A: Exactly. And the process of him being able to get those picks, he didn’t do the same thing as the year before to prepare for that same situation and he did try to do too much. It was good in one aspect where he got 13 picks, but the other aspect is he thought every time the ball was in the air he thought it was his. That’s not a bat attribute to have. If you look at Dave’s plays where he was in bad position he’s looking at the quarterback not knowing where the receiver is.
Q: What was he doing so well when he had the 13 picks?
A: His eyes were in great position and then sometimes there were a couple deep balls thrown against him and when you throw those against a guy of his stature you want to elevate the ball more. If it’s anywhere in his vicinity he’ll catch it. If a quarterback doesn’t put enough air on it he’ll jump up and take it. Case in point is that bowl game against Louisville. They’re running four verticals on him and he’s playing cover 3 and he’s midpoint between the one and two receiver and the guy tries to throw it in there and he jumps over the receiver and takes it from him. That’s what he does. He’s a phenomenal athlete. I have no doubt he’ll be a good pro.
Q: Do you think he has any issues in run support?
A: No I don’t. Honestly, David was a safety in high school and he started playing corner in college. I have no doubt he’s a good tackler. He’ll hit you. There were times in practice I put him at safety because he wants to hit. The word on the street is that guys thought he was more of a safety than a corner because people questioned his speed. He quieted a lot of critics. I can’t tell David he can’t do something; he’ll let you know he can do it. He’s a highly competitive kid. He’ll come at you and if you beat him he’ll come right back at you.
Q: Is there anything where you say, ‘Once he gets this aspect he’ll be very good…’?
A: Once he becomes more of a student of the game and refines his technique and plays with his eyes. He’ll be fine. He’ll be fine. He’ll watch film more. It’s hard for a college kid to be a student of the game especially an underclassmen because he has to go to school. It’s not like he could watch film all day. He did watch film but a coach wants him to watch more and more, but they can’t. In the NFL it’s his job. There’s no doubt he’ll do it.
Q: Are there plays that stood out to you that he made?
A: The Louisville film was crazy. That whole year, you look at some of the plays he made and the athleticism of this kid and you see him and think wow he’s kind of tall. That whole season here he had a lot of picks and you saw the athleticism. Last year he struggled. He got caught up in some things and wasn’t doing the things he did the year before to get 13 picks. The 13 picks were his worst enemy. That’s what he was going for and his eyes were in bad position. But the Louisville game was a good one. That comes to mind. And he made a play in our spring game [last year] that was phenomenal. The kid literally jumped over a guy’s back. It was a freakish play, but was one of the things Dave was accustomed to making. If someone showed you a tape of that play you’d be like, ‘Wow.’
Q: Could he move inside?
A: I think he can go inside. He never did it because I had to put him on the guy on the outside, mainly to the [wide] field side. That’s a lot of area to cover and he had the speed and athletic ability to cover that field. I could have moved him inside but I couldn’t afford to because I didn’t have anyone to put on the wide side of the field.
Q: Does he have the skills to move inside?
A: Yeah he could. The kid has long arms so he can use his hands in the five-yard area to the best of his ability. … He can return punts. In practice a couple times we lined him up at receiver. If I was a coach, I’d want to put the ball in his hands.
Q: How much press coverage did you play?
A: My thing is I leave that up to the players. I didn’t want to force a guy to play press if he feels that’s not what he wants. I let corners have free reign of playing press or off. He’ll do fine. We did both in practice. He’s going to be prepared because we played man and zone, some cover 2, cover 3. He has the whole gamut of the defensive stuff.
Q: Did he play deeper than your other corners?
A: He wants to see everything in front of him. Usually when you play press you only get one route and he wants to bait you into throwing that ball so he can go get it.
Q: One thing the Redskins talked about was his versatility. Could he also play some safety?
A: I coached in the NFL. I don’t know as far as communication wise… David’s a quiet kid. He’s a laid-back guy. Around his friends he’s boisterous, but in game situations he doesn’t say too much. A safety has to be a talker. Maybe it’s because we never put in position where he had to yell out. Physically he could do it. I don’t know if he’d communicate.
Q: What do you remember about [Florida State running back] Chris Thompson?
A: He can run and that before we played against him we were scared. He had vision. He has speed and he ran between the tackles. He was quick as [expletive] and so small you couldn’t see him and he’d be right up on you. Did the Redskins take him? Wow. You run that read option, he’ll be fine with that.