Redskins Position Group Previews: Cornerbacks

With Redskins training camp fast approaching, 106.7 The Fan will take a look at each position group before practices begin July 28 in Richmond. Today we break down the cornerbacks, where nine players vie for…five or six spots.

All eyes are on Josh Norman, the unexpected star who fell into Washington’s lap in April. Once the Carolina Panthers rescinded the franchise-tag offer made to Norman, the Redskins pounced and refused to let him leave Redskins park until he signed a deal.

Credit to owner Dan Snyder, team president Bruce Allen and GM Scot McCloughan for that one. You can’t simply rely only on the draft to add talent. And Norman fits that mold. He was one of the best corners in the game last season and helped the Panthers reach the Super Bowl. It was a steep price to pay at five years, $75 million overall value and $36.5 million guaranteed at signing. But the Redskins needed a No. 1 corner and Norman’s presence helps slot everyone else at an appropriate level.

No longer does Bashaud Breeland have to do battle every single time with Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham, Jr. in the division. The matchup between Norman and Beckham will be especially fascinating to watch after last season’s feud between the two men. The Redskins love Breeland’s competitiveness, his confidence. He can play in the slot, too, if they feel there’s an option who can hold his own outside opposite Norman (Quinton Dunbar, Greg Toler, Kendall Fuller). There are options here now.

If not, then keep Breeland outside and Washington will feel comfortable going into almost any game. There will be the necessary adjustment to a new defense for Norman. But he’s at his best in zone coverages and the Redskins played plenty of that last year under defensive coordinator Joe Barry.

Last year, Washington moved Dunbar from wide receiver – where he had little chance to make the team – to cornerback during training camp. It was a desperation move at the time. They had hardly any healthy corners in camp. But something clicked. By November Dunbar made a key interception of Eli Manning in a win over the Giants. Now with an offseason to refine his technique, what’s the upside? The Redskins are excited to find out.

Fuller was a third-round draft pick in 2016 out of Virginia Tech. He slipped in the draft following microfracture surgery on his right knee last September. It cost Fuller almost all of his junior year. But Washington might have got a steal. Fuller was healthy enough to participate in most offseason workouts. He’s a promising rookie talent who might have gone in the first or second round if healthy.

Greg Toler is the wild card. At age 31, he has starting experience with 47 career starts total between Arizona and Indianapolis. He’s a local kid who went to Northwestern High in Prince George’s County. With Will Blackmon moving to safety, the Redskins can use a veteran like Toler. He’d be a nice player to plug in if injuries strike.

But how many corners can you keep? During OTAs and minicamp, Dashaun Phillips was the primary nickel cornerback. The Redskins liked what they saw in six games with the team last season. He signed in September and spent two months on the practice squad before getting a chance after Chris Culliver tore his ACL in a Thanksgiving Day practice.

The long shots: Jeremy Harris, Mariel Cooper and Lloyd Carrington. But who knows? Carrington looked good during OTAs and minicamp, showing off outstanding athleticism. He’s an undrafted college free agent from Arizona State. And any injury to the top candidates could provide an opening. Nobody figured Dunbar for the opening 53-man roster last season and he played a key role much of the season.

Cornerbacks (9)

Josh Norman

Bashaud Breeland

Quinton Dunbar

Greg Toler

Kendall Fuller

Dashaun Phillips

Jeremy Harris

Mariel Cooper

Lloyd Carrington

Redskins Position Group Previews: Quarterbacks

Redskins Position Group Previews: Wide Receivers

Follow Redskins reporter Brian McNally on Twitter.

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