Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 29, 29 days before the NFL draft.
The pressure is on young Redskins corners
The Redskins traded away Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith deal. Although free agent Bashaud Breeland remains unsigned it does not appear that a return to Washington is in the cards.
That is two-thirds of the Redskins’ starting cornerback crew, over 1,500 snaps that need to be replaced. Jay Gruden said that those snaps will be taken mostly by a trio of players, one veteran free agent and two players who were reserves last year.
The veteran is Orlando Scandrick, a member of the Cowboys for nine years before signing with the Redskins on March 19. With his experience comes versatility, which Gruden values.
“Obviously, signing Orlando is a big piece,” Gruden said yesterday at the NFL spring meetings. “A guy with that type of experience. He can play outside, he can play inside.”
The young players on whom Gruden is counting are Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau. Scandrick has much more experience playing cornerback than those two combined.
“Dunbar, I think he’s been playing defensive back for a whole three years now,” said Gruden. “I think he’s ready to step up and take the position over. Fabian Moreau, obviously we drafted him out of UCLA for a reason. He’s only been playing defensive back for a short period of time also, transitioning from running back. Both of those guys have an incredible skill set, we expect a lot out of them.”
Dunbar has gained some experience over the last three years after he moved to from wide receiver to cornerback. Moreau played all of 79 snaps as a rookie last year. His main contribution was as a gunner on the punt team and doing other special teams work.
Some have wondered if Moreau would play on the outside or if he would move inside to play the slot position vacated by Fuller. After he moved around between the positions last year, Gruden made it clear that he would rather have Moreau stick with one position this year.
“He was learning the game, techniques, we had to move him around outside, inside a little bit and that’s not easy for a guy who’s only been playing corner for a short time,” he said. “‘OK, go play inside. Here’s your hook zone, here’s your man to man technique, here’s your check vs. empty.’ It takes some time so hopefully having another year under his belt, maybe keeping him on the outside now that we have Orlando in the house will be a big benefit for him.”
It’s always a gamble to go into a season counting on unknowns. But it happens, it’s the nature of free agency. It has worked out well for the Redskins in the recent past. Breeland was thrust into the starting lineup as a rookie in 2014 when DeAngelo Hall suffered a season-ending Achilles in Week 3. He held his own that year and in his remaining three seasons as the starter. Last year, Fuller was coming off of a shaky rookie season that saw him benched at the end of the season. He bounced back well enough to have teammates saying that he should have gone to the Pro Bowl.
Scandrick can help but the effectiveness of the cornerback group will come down to how big a step up Dunbar and Moreau take in 2018. No pressure, guys.
Tandler on Twitter
Regarding the NFL’s new penalty for lowering the helmet when making contact:
I want to see the “this would be a penalty” and “this would not be a penalty” video with actual plays from previous seasons. The thing is, I don’t think they know yet so no such video exists. https://t.co/7ACO8NoX2Q— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) March 28, 2018
—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 18
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 119
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 164
In case you missed it
- Redskins get pennies on the dollar for 2016 second-round pick
- Redskins reportedly trade Su'a Cravens to Broncos
- Would Vea solve a longtime need for the Redskins?
- The Redskins never considered drafting a rookie starting QB for 2018