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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Cornerback

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Cornerback

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts April 27. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

So far we’ve look at the defensive line, outside linebackers, and inside linebackers. Today the focus turns to cornerbacks.

2016 final game starters: Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland

Norman started all 16 games while Breeland started 14. They tied for the team lead in interceptions with three each.    

Departures: Greg Toler (unsigned)

Toler played 256 snaps as a nickel corner. He got more playing time as they lost faith in Kendall Fuller at various times during the season. But at other times he went for multiple games without seeing a single snap on defense. He could still be back as he has not signed elsewhere.

Projected 2017 starters: Norman, Breeland

The Redskins probably wanted more big plays out of Norman in return for their five-year, $75 million contract but they weren’t asking for their money back, either. He was by far their best pass defender, allowing a passer rating of just 74.3 when quarterbacks threw in his direction.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 8.0

Breeland played well at times. He was mismatched when he frequently was left with No. 1 receivers like Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant. The passer rating when throwing to him was 91.4, which is a little above the NFL average.

2017 reserves: Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, Dashaun Phillips

Fuller had an up-and-down rookie season. He was inactive early in the season, took over for Phillips at nickel corner in Week 4, and held the job until later in the season, when he played very sparingly. Dunbar also spent some time when he seemed to be in the doghouse as the team struggled to find the right combination.

MORE REDSKINS: Team announces preseason opponents

Phillips started two games early and spent chunks of the rest of the season inactive, on the practice squad, and even off the roster for one game.

Where can the cornerbacks find improvement?

This is a strong draft for cornerbacks and it would not be surprising to see the Redskins take one somewhere along the line. However, unless they go corner in the first or second round a draft pick is unlikely to bring immediate improvement to the unit.

Both starters can get better. Norman dropped some potential interceptions that were in his hands that could have been game changers. If he can hold on to a few more of those his impact would increase immensely. Breeland could take a step up in his contract year.

The player who has the most potential for improvement is Fuller. He was seen as a first-round talent who got pushed back to the third due to a knee injury. That injury slowed down his offseason and preseason development and it showed when the games started to count. If he can take the next step this year the Redskins could have a very solid nickel corner.

Locks and bubble players

Norman, Breeland, and Fuller are locks. Dunbar is close to being one but he could get pushed off.

The Redskins are likely to carry five corners so as of right now, Phillips is the fifth. But a draft pick could easily push him off of the 53-man roster.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

In case you missed it

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it