This week, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will examine some of the more critical position battles you'll see on the Redskins over the next few months.
Next up? That second outside cornerback spot.
Ronald Darby, Fabian Moreau, Aaron Colvin, Greg Stroman
*The Redskins signed Kendall Fuller to be their top cornerback. Ron Rivera loves Fuller’s versatility both on the outside and working in the slot. Heck, Fuller can help at safety if needed or provide exotic coverage schemes to confuse offenses. The Fuller signing was smart and the team deserves praise.
*At cornerback, that’s where the praise ends.
*Two players are competing to start opposite Fuller and those two players are Moreau and Darby. Both are in contract years, and both are coming off injury-shortened and disappointing 2019 campaigns.
*This will be Darby’s sixth season in the NFL where it will be Moreau’s fourth, but interestingly, both players are 26.
*Darby has produced at a much higher level than Moreau, but the last time that happened, Barack Obama was still president. For most of the last three seasons playing for the Eagles, Darby has struggled with injuries and in coverage. Moreau has had injuries of his own, like an ankle problem last year. Darby stayed healthy most of his first two years in the NFL with Buffalo, but since a trade to Philadelphia in 2017, the Potomac High School native spent time on the injured reserve each season.
*It’s only fair to point out, too, that Moreau didn’t play much as a rookie in 2017 when he was working back from a college pec injury. When he was on the field for much of 2018 and 2019, he was playing out of position in the slot. When Moreau finally got to play outside corner last season, the results were better, though not necessarily good.
OTHER BATTLES TO WATCH: LEFT TACKLE | TIGHT END | QUARTERBACK | WIDE RECEIVER
* The bottom line is Darby should win this job. He’s shown a higher ceiling for coverage in man and zone in five seasons in the NFL. But, he’s got to stay on the field. Moreau is more of an unknown and with a full offseason to prepare to play as an outside corner, with the range and size perfect for the role, Moreau could surprise. He’s quiet but very competitive. This battle looks the most even of any position up for grabs on the roster heading into training camp.
*I didn’t forget about Jimmy Moreland. At 5-foot-10, he’s best suited to play slot corner, which will get interesting with Fuller, but I think the Redskins defensive coaches would be thrilled to have Fuller on the outside and Moreland on the inside if both are able to produce. In fact, that scenario would be ideal.
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*JP did an excellent job covering this thing from top to bottom — actually, with coverage like that, maybe Jack Del Rio should take a look at him — so I'll try to point out some other factors to consider.
*Interceptions are interceptions, and I was pleased to see Moreau come on late in 2019, but remember that his three picks came off of Jeff Driskel and Kyle Allen. It's not like he was taking the ball away from Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. Again, his performance definitely improved when he was allowed to work on the outside, but it does at least feel relevant to also point out the QBs he turned over.
*Like JP, I also believe Darby should and will win this job. To take it a step further, I believe Darby has a true shot to be the best of Rivera's slew of one-year signings from this past offseason, a group that also includes Sean Davis and Thomas Davis. Yes, Moreau may be more athletically gifted, but I think the fact that Darby is someone Rivera made a point of acquiring — as opposed to Moreau, who's a pick from the previous regime — will matter here.
*Call me crazy/dumb/some other adjective (I've heard them all) but I don't want to discount Colvin in this discussion. To be clear, I don't see him unseating Darby or Moreau for a real role in Week 1, but I have a weird vibe that he will be a contributor in this secondary. Feel free to screenshot this and tweet it at me in a handful of months when it's obvious I was completely wrong, but the dude was a useful piece in Jacksonville for a few seasons and Rivera is known as someone who gets a lot out of corners. Maybe Colvin will be the next to experience that effect.
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