Closer looks at new Redskins Andre Roberts, Tracy Porter and Daryl Sharpton

The Washington Redskins have been active in free agency as General Manager Bruce Allen promised. So far they have signed five players, with many others visiting. We looked at one of the Redskins’ first free agent signings last week, guard Shawn Lauvao. With the first week of free agency in the books, let’s get familiar with some of the other free agents Washington has signed.

Andre Roberts

Like Lauvao, Roberts was signed right away. Roberts is a versatile receiver with the ability to play outside and move into the slot. One of the first things that stands out on video is his catching ability. For a receiver listed at just 5 feet 11, Roberts has an impressive catching radius, making good adjustments to the ball even when thrown inaccurately.

catching radius 1a

Here, Roberts lines up in the slot and is running a 10-yard stop route.

catching radius 1b

Quarterback Carson Palmer trusts Roberts to break at the correct time, throwing the ball before Roberts makes his break back to the ball.

catching radius 1c

The ball is thrown inaccurately, but Roberts makes an adjustment and actually makes the grab behind his body.

Roberts’s game is full of impressive adjustments and contested catches that should make him a very popular target of Robert Griffin III, who hasn’t had a reliable receiver outside of Pierre Garcon since he was drafted. Roberts also runs some nice routes, using veteran moves to sell fakes.

wheel 1a

On this play, Roberts motions across the formation into the slot. He’s running a wheel route against man coverage.

wheel 1b

He sells the fake as an out route, turning his head and hands back towards the quarterback as if he’s expecting the ball. This forces the corner to break and try to close the gap.

wheel 1c

Roberts then breaks back upfield. Having taken a bad angle on the fake, the defender is left to try and grab onto Roberts jersey to save the touchdown. But it doesn’t work.

wheel 1d

Roberts makes another nice adjustment to the ball, going up to get it at its highest point as it was thrown behind him, instead of letting it come to him and giving the defender a chance to catch up.

Roberts looks likely to be a solid addition to the Washington offense. He can play outside, but I expect him to spend most of his time in the slot. He doesn’t strike me as the type to take the top off a defense with extraordinary speed, which might complement Garcon better. But the Redskins have lacked trustworthy receivers since they drafted Griffin, making Roberts an important acquisition.

Tracy Porter

In Tracy Porter, the Redskins gave themselves some needed versatility. Porter did his best work covering the slot for most of last season, but can play outside too. Ideally, Washington wants second year corner David Amerson to win the starting job opposite DeAngelo Hall, with Porter in the slot. But should Amerson not progress the way Washington hopes, they have an insurance plan in Porter playing outside and moving back into the slot in nickel packages. Porter is a similar-style corner to Hall and Amerson in that he breaks aggressively on the ball. He likes to get eyes on the quarterback and try to make interceptions or pass breakups whenever possible.

wheel route 1a

Here we have Porter covering receiver Eddie Royal in the slot, who is running a wheel route.

wheel route 1b

Porter plays physically, getting his hands on Royal and disrupting his route.

wheel route 1c

Porter secures the route, staying on the inside hip of Royal nicely. That gives him an opportunity to peek into the backfield and look for the ball.

wheel route 1d

Porter then plays the ball instead of the man, making a great diving effort to knock it incomplete.

Peeking into the backfield can get Porter in trouble though.

Double Move 1a

The Texans run a play-action bootleg on this play. The receiver is running a double move on Porter, designed to get Porter to bite on the fake and allow the receiver to get open deep.

Double Move 1b

As the receiver breaks outside on his fake, Porter gets caught flat-footed looking at the quarterback. That allows the receiver to speed past him.

Double Move 1c

Porter is playing catch up after that. Luckily for Porter, the quarterback takes an easier underneath throw.

These are problems similar to those Amerson had coming out of college and, to a lesser extent, last season. Hall also suffered from the same habit when he was younger. It will be interesting to see if Raheem Morris can coach it out of them.

Darryl Sharpton

Sharpton was awarded starting snaps when the Texans lost incumbent linebacker Brian Cushing to injury last year. Sharpton showed up well against the run, but is questionable dropping into coverage. Sharpton does a good job reading the play in front of him and recognizing where the ballcarrier is going.

run D 1a

Here, the Cardinals called for a run play to the right.

run D 1b

Sharpton approaches the line of scrimmage, but notices that nose tackle Earl Mitchell and defensive end J.J. Watt have not only occupied their blockers, but squeezed the gap in between them. Sharpton knows that the only options for the running back are to continue out wide, or cut it all the way back, which isn’t Sharpton’s responsibility.

run D 1c

Sharpton bounces outside and meets the runner in the hole, wrapping him up for a minimal gain.

Playing the run isn’t a problem for Sharpton, but I am concerned about his ability to drop in coverage.

terrible coverage 1a

Here, the Texans are playing man coverage with a single deep safety. Sharpton is assigned with covering tight end Julius Thomas, who’s split out wide and running a go route. Sharpton opts to line up heavily inside the receiver, giving him the sideline to work with. Normally in this coverage, the defender would line up directly over the receiver, or even play a shade outside to try and funnel the receiver inside towards the safety help. But Sharpton does the opposite.

terrible coverage 1b

A quarterback of Peyton Manning’s caliber was not going to miss that opportunity. Sharpton was playing catch up the whole way as Manning went straight to Thomas.

terrible coverage 1c

Thomas made the easy touchdown catch without Sharpton getting anywhere close to stopping it.

Coverage from the linebacker position has been a problem for the Redskins for some time now. London Fletcher declined significantly as he aged and Perry Riley Jr. has been inconsistent. Sharpton and Riley will both have to work hard with new linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti to improve this aspect of their game, otherwise teams will be exploiting this weakness.

Who has been your favorite free agent signing so far?

Mark Bullock is The Insider’s Outsider, sharing his impressions of the Redskins’ play without the benefit of access to the team.

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