The Redskins and Chiefs both addressed serious needs in swapping quarterback Alex Smith and cornerback Kendall Fuller.
Coming off a breakout sophomore season, 22-year-old Fuller figures to become a full-time starter at corner for the Chiefs. Paired alongside Marcus Peters, already one of the NFL’s top corners, Redskins fans might feel the sting of losing Fuller immediately, and for a long time to come.
DeAngelo Hall has no doubt Fuller’s success in the nickel will help him dominate in his transition to the outside edge.
“The biggest thing when you’re playing defensive back and when you’re playing corner that people really don’t understand, just think about this for a second,” Hall told 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier. “When I’m playing corner, I’m about five-to-seven yards from the sideline.
“We use that guy as like a 12th defender. It’s easy. It’s very easy to go out there and do your technique. You know, you might give up some plays, but it’s pretty easy to go out there and play corner.”
“You get in that nickel, where you’ve got a two-way go, anything can happen,” he said. “I mean, guys are running specialty routes that they just run in that nickel. That’s a different world, and so it takes a little bit different of an athlete, of a football guy, to do that.”
“I think what made Kendall great, it wasn’t just his ability, his footwork, his speed, his knowledge of the game,” he said, “it was him being a real student of the game and understanding situational football, and what routes he could get, what he could eliminate. And it was that ability, to take from the classroom to the field, that I think is going to make him a great player in this league.”
“You know, you think about that Seattle game, and you’re like, ‘Man. How does he jump that slant?'” Hall said. “It was because film study. He knew that Doug Baldwin wasn’t going to run past him. He knew he had safety help outside, so he knew, if I can protect inside, if I can read this quarterback. Heck, he’s ran seven out of 14 times — which is 50 percent — he’s ran slant. Down-and-distance told me x-y-z, they need something quick.
“We had pressure coming, so he knew the ball was coming out quick. It’s those little things that takes a guy from a good player to a great player, and Kendall possesses the ability to see stuff in the film room and bring it out to the field, and a lot of guys can’t do that. Do I think he can dominate outside? Absolutely. Absolutely he can.”
Before Washington’s Week 4 game in Kansas City in 2017, Hall spoke with Chiefs secondary coaches Al Harris and Emmitt Thomas for roughly an hour: “They raved about [Fuller].”
“You grow so close and so tight with a lot of these guys,” said Hall. “Obviously, my personal relationship and connection to Kendall goes back way beyond since he’s been here. I had a chance to play with his older brother at Virginia Tech, and so I’ve seen Kendall — gosh — since he was 10 years old, and we always knew Kendall was going to be a heck of a player.
“Part of that was just the upbringing he had from his family, and part of it was his brothers’ influence on him and things he was able to see at such a young age. Kendall has a special place in my heart, and so to ask me that question probably wouldn’t be as fair as if you asked someone else, but just the impact he brought on the field and in meeting rooms, I think it will definitely be missed. But it’s a business. It’s not like they’re trading Kendall to run him out the league; they’re trading Kendall to a team who wants him to be a starter from day one.”
“I think we all were surprised,” Hall said of the trade. “I think everybody kind of had an eerie feeling that something was gonna happen, but I don’t think anybody knew it would be quite this big of a deal and involve an up-and-coming player like Kendall Fuller, a guy who played lights-out for us, a guy who’s from the area.
“I don’t think anybody anticipated the magnitude of what was about to happen, but I think we all did know something was kind of brewing.”
“I never thought this would ever happen,” he said. “But to have it happen, I couldn’t be more happy for him, because he’s going to go to a place that sees him as a starter, not just a nickel. When things like this happen, guys tend to get re-upped a little early, so he’ll probably get a new contract in the near future, and so I’m extremely happy for him.”