ASHBURN, Va. -- Safety has been a position of concern for the Washington Redskins for more than a decade now.
Since the tragic death of Sean Taylor during the 2007 season, the Redskins have cycled through dozens of options at strong and free safety.
Some top draft picks (LaRon Landry) didn't pan out. More often than not, Washington has relied on unheralded journeymen (Reed Doughty), veterans past their prime (Ryan Clark, Dashon Goldson) or converted cornerbacks (DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon), among many others.
At Wednesday's organized team activities session, the Redskins sent the first-team defense onto the field with two young safeties. Second-year pro Su'a Cravens, a second-round pick in 2016 from USC, is shifting there from dime linebacker, where he played as a rookie. Free-agent signee D.J. Swearinger was at free safety.
"He still has a ways to go, but I think Su'a has got a great chance to be a very good safety because he can play in the box and if he shows us the range we think he might have, he can be very versatile," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "And D.J. (Swearinger) can come down, he can play back, whatever. It's a good mix."
Swearinger was signed as a free agent after a nice season in Arizona. Cravens won't turn 22 until July. Swearinger, who grew up idolizing Taylor, won't turn 26 until September.
For the first time in a while, the Redskins have youth at the position. Hall is still recovering from a torn ACL sustained in Week 3 last September and Blackmon remains in a reserve role.
No offense to the previous safeties we've had before, but I just think D.J. is to a level in his career right now where he's got a lot of confidence," Gruden said. "He has got a lot of talent. We know that he's a physical guy, but as far as coverages and breaking up things ... I think he's going to really emerge as a top safety not only for this team but in this league."
Swearinger took time to get to that point. He was a second-round draft pick by Houston in 2013 but cut after just two years thanks to clashes with teammates and coaches and inconsistent play. Swearinger resurfaced in Arizona, where he finally had a breakthrough season in 2016.
"I always wanted to be a Redskin because of my idol, Sean Taylor," Swearinger said. "I like this fit. I actually wanted to come here when I got drafted, so when I seen that offer on the table, I went for it."