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Gomes' Versatility Gives Redskins Options

Posted May 12, 2011

It was a surprise that the Redskins added Nebraska safety DeJon Gomes in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. The move makes sense considering Gomes' impressive versatility.


Prior to last month’s NFL Draft, the Redskins were thought to have great depth at safety.

Pairing O.J. Atogwe, signed on March 3, with emerging star LaRon Landry gives the defense two reliable starters. Backups include Kareem Moore, Macho Harris and Chris Horton, each of whom have NFL starting experience.

So it was a surprise when the Redskins added Nebraska safety DeJon Gomes in the fifth round (146th overall) of the draft.

Gomes has impressive versatility, though. He has played both safety positions, cornerback and even linebacker at times in his football career.

He should add depth to the back end of the defense, giving coordinator Jim Haslett some options should there be injuries.

In Washington, Gomes is expected to play at free safety, according to head coach Mike Shanahan, but at 6-0 and 200 pounds, he could also be a fit at strong safety.

Gomes, with speed in the 4.45 range, has proven to be solid in pass coverage. At Nebraska, he posted seven interceptions and 12 pass break-ups the last two years.

“I think my strengths are being able to cover in the flats,” Gomes told Washington, D.C., reporters on April 30 shortly after he was drafted. “This league is moving towards more of a passing league and they need safeties that can cover. I think I had a lot of that experience at Nebraska and my corner background.”

What position does he feel most comfortable playing?

“I don’t know – I feel comfortable close to the box down there, but it really doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I’ve played all the positions.”

Gomes was a starter on a Nebraska defense that was ranked in the top 12 in total defense and pass defense in college football.

As a senior, Gomes finished second on the team with 99 tackles and had four games with double-digit tackle totals. He also logged three interceptions, a sack, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Gomes transferred to Nebraska from City College of San Francisco, where he posted eight interceptions in two seasons.

“He comes up with a lot of turnovers,” Shanahan said. “He does have the ability to play nickel, play inside [at strong safety], as a linebacker. He’s a very smart, heady player.

“Just talking to [Nebraska’s] coaching staff and players, he’s one of those leaders who will tell you what everybody does on every play, who can draw up the defensive front, the linebackers and the secondary.”

With Atogwe and Landry obviously ahead of him on the Redskins’ depth chart, Gomes must develop his special teams skills to stick in the NFL.

Gomes said he played on special teams coverage units in his junior year at Nebraska, but coaches had him focus solely on defense as a senior.

“I played on three of the four core units [as a junior],” he said.