Redskins 10 Questions: How will cornerback battle shake out?

10 in 10: The Countdown to Redskins Training Camp

Craig Hoffman
July 20, 2019 - 10:37 am
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Believe it or not, training camp is almost here. After one of the most consequential Redskins off-seasons of the last two decades, we’ll start to answer the biggest questions we have about the football team. 

With just days to go until Richmond, The Fan started asking our ten biggest questions about the 2019 Washington Redskins. We’re halfway home, so here’s our fifth biggest question

5. How will cornerback position battle shake out?

This is the highest-profile position battle on our list because there is a fight at both ends. Josh Norman is the starter at one corner spot and he’s poised to have a good year if a few things fall into place. He has a coach that is likely to use him better and a defensive line that’s going to force the issue, creating the opportunities he had in Carolina. He’s got to take advantage, but that’s the last we need to talk about him because his spot is locked down.

The other spot likely belongs to Quinton Dunbar, but it’s not 100 percent his. Fabian Moreau is a factor here. His physical tools are elite, but his coverage skills haven’t been. He’s bounced around between outside corner and the slot over his first two years in the league and a focus at one position could do him good. We don’t know if that’s going to happen yet, as he worked inside and outside this spring, but it has been mentioned that they would like to get him more reps outside.

That said, Dunbar is a good NFL corner and he signed a contract extension at the start of the last off-season. They’ve made an investment there and with good reason. My prediction is that Dunbar wins the job. He’s the better player as far as we know.

Inside is where things really get fun. Moreau could win the job if they decide to put him in the mix, but Jimmy Moreland would be my early prediction; though I’m scared there’s some recency bias in that prognostication. He’s a 7th round pick who had an up and down spring. The ups though were absolutely stunning. He has an extreme nose for the ball. He isn’t scared. He’s coachable. He’s smart. He’s tough as nails. He’s instinctual. He’s all the things that make you think he’s going to be a success despite his smaller size. If he can show consistency in camp, I think the job is his.

However, he’s competing with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a veteran of 11 NFL seasons and two Pro Bowls. In a young room, DRC brings a veteran presence that’s really valuable. He also has chemistry with Landon Collins from their days in New York and when a unit is as interdependent as a secondary is, that matters. Greg Stroman is also in the mix inside after playing nearly exclusively outside last year. Stroman showed well overall in his rookie season but is going to be in a stiff competition to make the roster this year.

Also in the mix and almost certainly on the team is Adonis Alexander. The sixth-round pick in last year’s supplemental draft didn’t play much his rookie year but has extreme size and great speed for the position. Sixth-round picks make football teams. Unless he’s clearly worse than all of the aforementioned players, he’s in and will be mostly a special teams contributor.

This list doesn’t even include Danny Johnson, who struggled last year after a terrific camp as a UDFA. He might be a practice squad candidate. Stroman might fit into that category as well depending on if another team would risk putting him through waivers.

Of course this is all a numbers game. Norman, Dunbar, Moreau and Moreland makes four. That leaves likely two spots for DRC, Stroman, and Alexander. If the Redskins go light at safety (or another position), perhaps there will be a seventh spot. Rodgers-Cromartie has played sparingly at free safety in his career and Alexander played some at Virginia Tech, so perhaps having them as reserves makes a thinner safety group a more viable option.

Sometimes injury makes these decisions easy, but if everyone can get through camp early, Ray Horton’s first cut down day in Washington is going to be a stressful one.

Question 10:  Will Rob Ryan and Ray Horton have an impact?

Question 9: Who's the odd-man-out at middle linebacker?

Question 8: Can Montae Nicholson return to form?

Question 7: What impact will Kevin O’Connell have as OC?

Question 6: Who wins position battle at wide receiver?

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