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Need to Know: Where do the Redskins' top two cornerbacks rank?

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Need to Know: Where do the Redskins' top two cornerbacks rank?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 12, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 184 days ago. It will be 62 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 3; Preseason opener @ Falcons 30; Final roster cut 53

Where does the Norman-Breeland duo rank?

Last week on NFL.com, former Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor ranked the top cornerback tandems in the NFL going into the 2016 season. His top duo was the Broncos’ Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. It’s hard to argue with ranking the pair of cornerbacks on the defense that spearheaded the Broncos’ run to the Lombardi Trophy at the top.

Taylor goes through his top five in detail. He ranks Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu of the Cardinals second (Taylor admits he’s fudging a bit as Mathieu is a safety/slot corner), followed by the Bengals’ duo of Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones, the Giants Donimique Roders-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins, and Kyle Fuller and Tracy Porter of the Bears.

He also mentioned the Chargers’ and Bills’ corner tandems as just having missed the list.

The issue with this ranking, besides the fact that it’s not complete, is that it looks at duos. With NFL teams lining up with three or more wide receivers on over half of the snaps it makes more sense to talk about corners in groups of three.

But that’s not the way this was done so let’s look at how the Redskins’ top two corners, Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland, stack up against Taylor’s top picks.

Norman, a first-team All-Pro in 2015, playing opposite a replacement-level cornerback likely would qualify the Redskins’ corners for a spot in the top half of the league. Breeland is still learning. According to Pro Football Focus, quarterbacks throwing at him had a 93.1 passer rating. That’s better than the league average rating of 88.4. You have to be careful putting too fine a point on PFF’s numbers like this but it’s still safe to say that he’s somewhere around average in that department. And Breeland had just two interceptions last year, the same number he had as a rookie.

Those of us who follow the Redskins closely see a player on the rise. I don’t think that Breeland is quite there yet and in the eyes of the rest of the league he still has a lot to prove.

Then again, the numbers don’t show that Jenkins, who was lured from the Rams to the Giants with a mega free agent contract, is all that much better than Breeland. Quarterbacks threw for a 93.8 passer rating against him and he has five interceptions in the last two years. If you want to give Jenkins a bit of an edge because he has been around for two years longer and has made more big plays (six career return TDs) that’s fine but it’s not like Jenkins is miles ahead of Breeland.

And you would have to say that Norman is a cut above Rodgers-Cromartie based on All-Pro honors and a markedly better pass rating against him (Norman 58.1, DRC 67.2). Somehow, DRC made the Pro Bowl last year despite the fact that the Giants had the worst-ranked pass defense in the NFL (yes, they even ranked lower than the Saints).

So without putting every CB duo in the NFL under the microscope I think it’s safe to say that if the Giants have a top five pair of cornerbacks the Redskins have a tandem somewhere in the top 10.

In July, a top-10 pair of corners plus $2.60 will get me my afternoon venti coffee at Starbucks. But with the addition of Norman and the continued development of Breeland they should be able to improve their pass defense, which ranked 26th in yards allowed.

In case you missed it 

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

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.