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Redskins Position Outlook: Talent at corner, but need better results in 2017

Redskins Position Outlook: Talent at corner, but need better results in 2017

Over the next few weeks, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will grade each position group’s performance in 2016, break down the current personnel situation and evaluate the unit's outlook for 2017. 

Cornerback

Starters: Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland

Backups: Quinton Dunbar, Kendall Fuller, Dashaun Phillips, Greg Toler

Free Agents: Greg Toler 

Redskins Position Outlook: Running back | Defensive line | Outside linebackers | Inside linebackers 

Rewind: With Josh Norman starting opposite Bashaud Breeland, the Redskins should have one of the strongest set of starting corners in the NFL. Norman is an elite talent, and Breeland has shown he can be quite good. In 2016, however, the results weren't pretty.

The Redskins finished 25th in passing defense, and while that's not all on the corners, the position group doesn't get a pass either. Norman got his hands on a ton of passes, but was only able to haul in three interceptions. Breeland also had three picks. 

Washington struggled for much of the season defending the slot. Rookie Kendall Fuller showed promise early, but that ended fast in a game where he got torched by Vikings WR Stefon Diggs. Quinton Dunbar is an incredible athlete with a lot of potential, though he logged just two starts last year. Greg Toler and Dashaun Phillips gave the team depth, but neither player provided enough for coaches to depend on them.

Fast forward: Confusion seemed to reign in the Redskins secondary in 2016. Some of that might be a result of a patchwork group of safeties and a poor performing defensive line, but coaching changes might help in 2017. When Joe Barry was let go, so was secondary coach Perry Fewell. Last season, some folks say Fewell's coaching style and scheme led to breakdowns for the Washington corners. With a new defensive backs coach in Torrian Gray, some of that may change, but it's also worth pointing out that some players wanted Aubrey Pleasant promoted to that job. 

It would be near impossible for Breeland's 2017 season to start as poorly as 2016 did. Late in the year, Breeland was again playing well, especially when deployed in the slot. It's also hard to imagine Josh Norman can make as many clean breaks on passes without bringing a few more in. 

This group will largely be back, certainly Norman, Breeland, Fuller and Dunbar. New defensive coordinator Greg Manusky will have to decide early on his plan for a nickel corner, and if Fuller in his second season will be ready for that role. If not, it's possible Dunbar could work outside and Breeland move inside in spots.

Also, don't forget about Will Blackmon. The versatile defender was asked to play safety in 2016, but still has the wheels to play corner, his natural position. In 2015, Blackmon had two INTs and forced two fumbles as a corner. Should the 'Skins actually address the safety position via the draft or free agency, maybe Blackmon moves back to corner this fall, especially considering his ability to cover the slot.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Amidst Jags controversy, Landon Collins goes full Suge Knight to recruit Jalen Ramsey to Redskins

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Amidst Jags controversy, Landon Collins goes full Suge Knight to recruit Jalen Ramsey to Redskins

Even during this relatively quiet period of the NFL calendar, there's still plenty of controversy around the league.

Take Jacksonville for example, where Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been firing back at executive vice president Tom Coughlin for saying he wants every player to attend the team's voluntary offseason workouts. Ramsey, as you may have already guessed, has elected to skip these workouts. 

Seeing an opportunity, new Redskins safety Landon Collins invited Ramsey to Washington via Twitter, going into full Suge Knight "Come to Death Row" mode to make his pitch. 

Ramsey seemed quite amused by the prospect, but also didn't seem totally opposed to the idea of teaming up with Collins in D.C. 

While it's unlikely Washington trades for Ramsey, nothing's stopping you from firing up the NFL Roster Builder and putting the two-time Pro Bowler in burgundy and gold, Redskins fans! 

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Redskins fans shouldn't hate the idea of Daniel Jones at No. 15 as much as they seem to

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Redskins fans shouldn't hate the idea of Daniel Jones at No. 15 as much as they seem to

For some reason — whether it's because they like another quarterback better, or because his college numbers don't exactly pop, or because he went to college at Duke — a ton of Redskins fans really don't like the idea of their team drafting Daniel Jones 15th overall.

In fact, its gotten to the point where some have even changed their handle on Twitter to names that reflect their anti-Jones stance. 

In a Mock Draft Special on NBC Sports Washington's MyTeams app, though, Charley Casserly has the Redskins taking Jones at pick No. 15. Now, before you punt your phone or spike your laptop, hear Casserly out on what there is to like about Jones. 

"He's the most pro-ready quarterback in this year's draft," the former GM explained. "Why do I say that? Vision and anticipation. Vision is the ability to see the field and go in a progression from one to two to three in the receivers. Anticipation — see the blitz coming, get it to the hot receiver, get the ball out before the receiver makes his break. He's very good at both of those things."

What Jones doesn't have, such as a top arm, is something you can see right away in workouts and on tape. But his strengths, such as his ability to find the right read or throw a wideout open, aren't as simple to notice.

Perhaps that's why 'Skins fans are so against him — because you have to do more projecting when it comes to his future as opposed to someone like Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins, guys with tons of college success and tape that will wow you.

Jay Gruden has mentioned this offseason how, if Washington does grab a QB, he expects that player to come in early and compete. They can't be treated like a minor leaguer, someone who can slowly work their way up to a place where they're ready for Sundays. 

According to Casserly at least, Jones won't need much grooming. Maybe that catches Gruden's eye.

In his mock, the analyst slotted the Duke product to the Redskins instead of Missouri's Drew Lock due to, among other things, Lock not being as accurate. Other players the Burgundy and Gold could've selected but didn't were Brian Burns, Clelin Ferrell and DK Metcalf.

In the end, Casserly kept lauding Jones' readiness. In addition to his athleticism, Casserly expects Jones to come into the league and make a difference early with his eyes and his mind.

"Super smart guy," he said. "He's a natural at that stuff. That's not natural. That's stuff you have to learn."

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