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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Cornerback

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Cornerback

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts April 27. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

So far we’ve look at the defensive line, outside linebackers, and inside linebackers. Today the focus turns to cornerbacks.

2016 final game starters: Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland

Norman started all 16 games while Breeland started 14. They tied for the team lead in interceptions with three each.    

Departures: Greg Toler (unsigned)

Toler played 256 snaps as a nickel corner. He got more playing time as they lost faith in Kendall Fuller at various times during the season. But at other times he went for multiple games without seeing a single snap on defense. He could still be back as he has not signed elsewhere.

Projected 2017 starters: Norman, Breeland

The Redskins probably wanted more big plays out of Norman in return for their five-year, $75 million contract but they weren’t asking for their money back, either. He was by far their best pass defender, allowing a passer rating of just 74.3 when quarterbacks threw in his direction.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 8.0

Breeland played well at times. He was mismatched when he frequently was left with No. 1 receivers like Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant. The passer rating when throwing to him was 91.4, which is a little above the NFL average.

2017 reserves: Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, Dashaun Phillips

Fuller had an up-and-down rookie season. He was inactive early in the season, took over for Phillips at nickel corner in Week 4, and held the job until later in the season, when he played very sparingly. Dunbar also spent some time when he seemed to be in the doghouse as the team struggled to find the right combination.

MORE REDSKINS: Team announces preseason opponents

Phillips started two games early and spent chunks of the rest of the season inactive, on the practice squad, and even off the roster for one game.

Where can the cornerbacks find improvement?

This is a strong draft for cornerbacks and it would not be surprising to see the Redskins take one somewhere along the line. However, unless they go corner in the first or second round a draft pick is unlikely to bring immediate improvement to the unit.

Both starters can get better. Norman dropped some potential interceptions that were in his hands that could have been game changers. If he can hold on to a few more of those his impact would increase immensely. Breeland could take a step up in his contract year.

The player who has the most potential for improvement is Fuller. He was seen as a first-round talent who got pushed back to the third due to a knee injury. That injury slowed down his offseason and preseason development and it showed when the games started to count. If he can take the next step this year the Redskins could have a very solid nickel corner.

Locks and bubble players

Norman, Breeland, and Fuller are locks. Dunbar is close to being one but he could get pushed off.

The Redskins are likely to carry five corners so as of right now, Phillips is the fifth. But a draft pick could easily push him off of the 53-man roster.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: Comparing Redskins training camp with the New England Patriots

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast: Comparing Redskins training camp with the New England Patriots

After a poor first preseason showing and some questions about the physicality of Redskins training camp, JP Finlay talks with Patriots Insider Phil Perry from CSN New England to discuss the differences between Washington's camp and how they run things in New England.

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins Playbook: Jay Gruden calls Ryan Grant "Mr. Consistent"

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Redskins Playbook: Jay Gruden calls Ryan Grant "Mr. Consistent"

Few Redskins players draw more heated fan reaction than Ryan Grant. In three seasons with Washington, Grant has never missed a game, but he also hasn't produced much. His career stats: 39 catches for 412 yards and two touchdowns. 

Regardless, Jay Gruden and the Redskins coaching staff appreciates Grant in a way few fans understand. Grant is able to back up both the slot and outside receivers, and knows the roles of all the players.

"He’s really strong, he’s in great shape, and he’s Mr. Consistent," Gruden said of Grant. "Everything we ask him to do he does, and he does it right."

When Jamison Crowder missed time in Richmond with a hamstring strain, Grant stepped into Crowder's slot role. When Josh Doctson hurt his hamstring and missed time, Grant stepped into his role on the outside of the offense.

Throughout camp, Grant has displayed good hands and an adept knowledge of the offense. 

"No matter where he lines up, no matter what we ask him to do, he can come in the core and block the safety, whatever we want him to do, he can run whatever route from whatever positon and he runs at the right depth, perfect angles coming out of them," Gruden said. "He’s just ‘Steady Eddie,’ and that’s why I like him. I like consistent, smart players and that’s what Ryan is."

Against the Ravens in the Redskins first preseason game, Grant hung on to a tough catch over the middle to give the team one of very few offensive sparks. The problem for fans as it relates to Grant has not been preseason play. It's been inconsistent play in regular season games. 

Gruden believes that could change this year.

"I think people may be surprised with how many balls Ryan Grant might catch. Either way, could happen, I don’t know. I can’t foresee the future there, but I would be just fine with Ryan Grant being the target of a lot of balls."

To state the obvious: Grant is definitely making the roster. Behind Terrelle Pyror, Crowder and Doctson, Grant is the Redskins fourth wideout and one of the few players on the roster that is interchangeable among the Washington receiver positions. 

Grant's career best season came in 2015 when he caught 23 balls for 268 yards and two TDs. Based on his preseason, it seems Grant could surpass those totals in 2017. Much of his early season work has been a result of injuries to Doctson and Crowder, but make no mistake, Grant has been impressive in practice. 

Will it translate to the real games? The opprotunity seems only likely to arise if the Redskins deal with injuries at the receiver spot. 

Last year, Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 yards, but DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon accounted for more than 2,000 of those yards. Doctson, Crowder and certainly Pryor are likely to be the major recepients of Cousins' aerial prowess. Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis and Chris Thompson accounted for another 1,618 yards last year.

Keep in mind, this is the last year of Grant's rookie contract. If there was ever a time to show in games what coaches have long seen and loved in practice, this would be the year. It seems only an injury would give him a major opportunity. If the situation came to pass, Gruden would have faith in Grant. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!