Sheldrick Redwine's Multifaced Contributions The Past Two Weeks
Rookie fourth round pick Sheldrick Redwine was able to get on the field and making meaningful contributions in each of the past two games for the Cleveland Browns defense. That's good on its face, but what makes it impressive is the fact that he actually did it at two different positions. Facing the Pittsburgh Steelers, Redwine played free safety in place of Damarious Randall while he played the X position against the Cincinnati Bengals, playing far closer to the line of scrimmage as well as in the slot.
While both are technically safeties, they are two completely different positions in terms of their roles within the defense. The free is often asked to play deep, making sure the team doesn't get beat down the field whereas the X has far more responsibility playing forward and operating in man coverage. Redwine had a far better game against the Bengals. Some of that might have been eliminating some of the jitters of starting his first game on the road in Pittsburgh, but Redwine was also doing things he had shown a knack for in college.
As a Miami Hurricane, Redwine spent a lot of time operating in slot in man coverage. Tremendous raw speed and ability to close, he has shown he can mirror routes and will bring some physicality to the position. That carried over into the Bengals game. The one common thread between both games was a willingness to play the run game, which he did pretty effectively.
Redwine and fellow rookie Sione Takitaki shared that X position against the Bengals. Takitaki only played five snaps while Redwine had 65, which suggests the Browns were more concerned about being spread out as opposed to feeling the need for a more physical presence in the box. The fact that Redwine has been able to impact the running game the way he did combined with his speed and ability to cover makes it more attractive to keep him on the field. He simply offers more at that point.
The questions surrounding the coaching staff make the situation with Redwine's future a little cloudier. Right now, Redwine seems like the player Steve Wilks would like to take over at the X position for the rest of this year and be the favorite next season, playing that third safety spot in his 4-2-5 scheme.
Redwine could still technically play a slot corner role in the event they switched defensive coordinators, but obviously the defense is built around the position Redwine is currently playing and the responsibilities would be slightly altered. For example, Redwine will play in the box lined up like a linebacker at times whereas a slot corner wouldn't. Regardless of the coaching staff he's still operating as depth at free safety behind Randall.
The Browns and Wilks have been forced to play a number of rookies and inexperienced players in general this season between injuries and suspensions. Against the Steelers, they had five on the field at the same time at points between Redwine, Takitaki, Greedy Williams, Mack Wilson and Porter Gustin. Redwine, a player that wasn't expected to contribute save for special teams this season, has gone from a player that was a fish out of water in the preseason to looking like a player who's made significant strides and could be in the mix to be a featured player on the defense next year.