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.
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.
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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.
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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.