The Cleveland Browns put a heavy focus on the defensive side of the ball during the 2019 NFL Draft. This was especially true in regards to their early draft picks. After selecting two defenders on Day 2 of the draft, Greedy Williams and Sione Takitaki, the Browns continued their run on defenders by selecting safety Sheldrick Redwine with their first pick on Day 3. Cleveland chose the Miami safety in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
So, what are the Browns getting in their newest safety? Well, let’s answer that question by examining the film to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of Sheldrick Redwine. Roll the tape.
Redwine is a physical safety with the hard-hitting prowess to set the tone for the rest of the defense. His physicality makes him a player who can come up into the box and be an extra defender against the run. He is not afraid to put his body in the fray to make a play for his team. As a tackler, he shows good strength, angles, and technique to bring defenders down. Here are some examples of his physicality and tackling.
In the first play versus Virginia, Redwine is just outside the box at his safety position. The offense runs a handoff to the right edge. The Miami safety quickly diagnoses the run play and heads to the outside to track down the back from getting around the edge. He is able to run through the traffic untouched and get into the backfield where he goes low on the ball carrier and is able to stymie the runner for going any further. In the second play against Boston College, Redwine is lined up as the furthest defender on the right edge. The run play goes toward the right and Redwine is disciplined in setting the edge and forcing the runner to cut inside. The safety is able to close down and lay a heavy tackle on the runner, keeping him at that spot for the rest of his defense to swarm and help bring the runner down. In the final play versus LSU, Redwine is lined up in the left slot, right outside the box. The LSU play is a handoff to the left. The safety comes down to the line of scrimmage and sets the edge, forcing the runner inside. But, Redwine is not done. He is met with a blocker, but he simply slips out of the grasps of the blocker and runs right into the ball carrier. He along with his fellow teammate brings the ball carrier for a short gain.
Explosive Closing Ability/Plant and Go
One of the first things you notice when you watch Redwine play is his explosive closing speed. He is able to stop on a dime and explode back downfield to chase down the play. He can close the gap on a ball carrier in quick fashion, finishing the play with his physicality. Here are some examples of his ability to plant and go on plays and his explosive closing ability.
In the first play versus Boston College, Redwine is the deep safety on the left side of the field for the run toward the left sideline. The closing speed is on full display here. Redwine is able to beat all of his defensive teammates to the edge and reach the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage to stop him for a short gain. The second play against Boston College, Redwine is in off coverage versus the slot receiver on the right side of the field. The Boston College receiver runs a quick slant route inside and the ball is quickly thrown toward his direction. Redwine is able to stop his backpedal and close on the receiver to hit the receiver just as he was bringing in the ball. Redwine’s quick close allowed him to break up the pass. In the final play versus Virginia, Redwine’s explosive closing ability shows up in this blitz. He comes from his safety spot and is initially blocked by his teammate who shuffles in front of him. But, that early impediment caused him to show off his explosive closing speed. Once he got around his teammate, he closed on the pocket quickly, forcing a quick throw by the quarterback, while hitting the passer just as he released the ball. The pass was completed, but the play still showed his quick closing speed.
One of his most valuable traits is his athleticism and ability to play multiple positions and perform multiple roles. He can play as a deep safety, come up in the box as a box safety or play out wide as a nickel corner. He can rush the passer, defend the run, play in zone coverage and cover a player in a one-on-one. He flies all over the field showing off his athleticism. Here is an example of his athleticism and versatility.
These three plays are all in the same game versus Virginia. The first one is a situation where Redwine is in zone coverage at the safety spot versus this pass play. The safety reads the quarterbacks eyes throughout the play and when the quarterback turns his eyes toward the crossing receiver, Redwine quickly reads and reacts, undercutting the receiver and picking the pass off. He showed off his explosive athleticism to high point the pass, too. The second play is an example of his blitzing ability. Redwine comes from his position as the corner on the right side of the field to blitz the quarterback. The safety shows off his agility by avoiding the back out of the backfield and then shows his speed to close and get to the quarterback to lead to the sack. The final play is an example of his man coverage skills. He is covering a receiver who is running a deep route up the field. Redwine is able to stick right with the receiver, showing his speed to stay with the receiver. The safety is able to stay right on the hip of the receiver all the way down the field. He gave no separation to the receiver.
Man Coverage Technique
Redwine has the athleticism and movement skills to cover players in man coverage, but he lacks the best technique to really be trusted in this role. He can too easily allow a receiver to gain an advantage against him. These advantages are coming because of technique issues and not physical limitations. His technique when the ball is in the air is another area he must refine. Overall, he just needs to become more technically sound in man coverage. Here are some examples of his issues in this area.
In the first play against Wisconsin, Redwine is in man coverage in the left slot. The receiver he is covering is running a simple streak route, where the quarterback is throwing a back-shoulder pass to the receiver. The play is successful because Redwine never turns his head around in time to find the ball. The safety was in the right position to make a play on the ball, but he was too focused on the receiver that he allowed the quarterback to throw right over him because he knew the safety was not looking for the ball. Redwine was too late to turn his head that the ball soared right past him when he did so.
In the second play versus Wisconsin, Redwine is in man coverage, this time in off coverage versus the left slot receiver. The receiver is running a crossing route across the middle of the endzone. The route is not well disguised by the receiver and is easily diagnosed from the beginning. But, Redwine allows the receiver to easily gain the inside leverage and he also does not even meet the receiver at the turn of the route. This causes the safety to fall behind the receiver and give an easy reception to the receiver. Redwine needed to know that he was getting no help inside and that he needed to stay on top of the receiver rather than behind him.
The final play against Virginia, Redwine is in press man coverage in the right slot. This play is a play-action pass and ultimately ends in a quarterback scramble, but the play showed an area where Redwine needs to refine. The receiver going against Redwine fakes an inside route and then runs a quick flat route. The safety’s feet get messed up. He takes a false step back when the receiver moves to the outside and then the safety tries to lunge at the receiver to try and slow down the receiver. But, Redwine is out of position and has no leverage to slow the receiver down. If the quarterback was targeting the receiver, he would have found a quick option because Redwine was stumbling to recover after the early mistakes.
The other area of weakness in Redwine’s game is his overall awareness. He can lose his presence of where he is on the field and be too far away from the play to make an impact. He can lose track of receivers in his area of the field. He also can be too focused on one player, like the quarterback in many situations, causing him to get fooled on a play. Here are some examples of his lack of awareness at times.
In the first play versus Boston College, Redwine is the lone deep safety in the middle of the field. The safety lined up at the goal line, but when the play began, he backpedaled to the back half of the endzone. The offense was running two-three underneath routes, causing Redwine to be completely out of the play. He lost awareness of his positioning on the field and the situation that he was in the endzone. For the second play versus LSU, Redwine was at his safety spot on the right side of the field. This play was an example of his loss of awareness when locked onto a single player. Redwine is staring down the quarterback, trying to read his eyes, but he loses track of the receiver, who is lined up in the right slot and running a dig route behind Redwine. Redwine was just a tad late realizing the route, allowing the receiver to get behind him. He got out of position and allowed the receiver to cross behind him, getting open for the pass. The final play against Virginia is an example of Redwine not having the awareness of his spacing between his man. Redwine was in off-man coverage versus the receiver in the left slot. The receiver runs a five-yard stick route to the inside. Redwine lined up about eight yards away from the receiver, but when the receiver started his route, Redwine backpedaled a couple of steps, allowing the space between him and the receiver to still be substantial enough where he is too far to get to the receiver to make a play on the pass.