Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?
On the roster: Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Josh Holsey, Dashaun Phillips, Shak Randolph, Tevin Homer
The numbers: Have nine, will keep five or six.
Six is the usual number to carry here. However, if they need to shave a roster spot, they have Will Blackmon, a safety who also can play corner is they go with five CBs.
Locks: Norman, Breeland, Fuller, Dunbar
It’s probably not accurate to say that Norman is looking for a bounce back year. He was by far the best cornerback on the team and he still covered receivers better than most in the league. But he did not repeat as a first-team All-Pro; he didn’t even make the Pro Bowl. Norman will play as though he has something to prove.
Breeland’s 2016 season got off to a tough start as he was overmatched trying to cover the Steelers’ Antonio Brown in Week 1. Once he started defending No. 2 receivers more often he got his feet under himself and he had a solid season He is in a contract year and he would like to set himself up for a big payday, whether it’s in Washington or elsewhere.
Fuller struggled playing slot corner. The reasons for that were typical rookie adjustment and lingering effects of a knee injury he suffered in his final year at Virginia Tech. Also, he may be better suited to playing outside corner instead of in the slot. That might mean that Breeland, who is very effective in the slot, could move inside in nickel situations. But slot corners don’t get paid as well as outside cover guys so this may be a sticky situation for new defensive backs coach Torian Gray to navigate.
Had Dunbar not stepped up and volunteered to switch from wide receiver to cornerback after a rash of injuries at the position a couple of years ago he might not be in the NFL now. As it is, he is a solid option in dime situations.
On the bubble: Moreau, Holsey, Phillips
Moreau will be employed by the Redskins as of Week 1. The question is whether the third-round pick will be on the roster or on the PUP list. He is still rehabbing from a torn pectoral muscle he suffered during his pro day and he is not scheduled to take the field until late August. Will he be able to catch up in time?
Holsey’s chances of making it as a seventh-round pick will be bolstered if Moreau does end up on PUP. The early impression is that he could work his way onto the roster even if Moreau does make the 53.
Phillips went through it all last year. At various times, he was the starting nickel corner, benched, on the practice squad, and unemployed. He could be any of those when Week 1 rolls around this year.
Long shots: Randolph, Homer
The practice squad seems to be the best chance for these two undrafted players. Homer is a rookie, Randolph spent some time on the Redskins practice squad last year.