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

Jul 12, 2016, 4:55 AM EDT


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


—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, 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 

  1. abanig - Jul 12, 2016 at 5:51 AM

    I think Taylor is sleeping on our duo. I don’t think Kirkpatrick & Jones are anything special and both Jenkins & DRC are hit or miss, Cousins lit up both last year. Also the Bears? Porter is average and while Fuller is good, I wouldn’t say he’s better than Breeland or any bring close to Norman. I put our duo 3rd.

    1. Talib and Harris
    2. Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu
    3. Norman & Breeland
    4. Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones
    5. DRC and Janoris Jenkins
    6. Kyle Fuller and Tracy Porter

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 12, 2016 at 2:58 PM

      I absolutely love Partick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. I watched all their games at LSU and am enamored with how well they’ve done in the NFL. If given my choice of any corner in the league, it would be Peterson.

      However, it makes no sense to include Honey Badger on this list. We’re looking at everyone else’s top two corners but giving Arizona a pass? Using safties changes things drastically. I would have to say Sherm and Chancelor should be high on this list if we’re just looking at DBs in general. Arizona has one of the best defensive backfields in the league. Their CBs can stand on their own. We don’t need to fudge anything to give them their respect.

      All that said: I agree the Broncos should be #1. I also agree people are sleeping on our DBs. But I don’t blame them. Most people have no idea who Breshad Breeland is. People are also unsure how Norman will play in Washington (and let’s be honest, we don’t know either). And Fuller is a complete unknown. We’re banking on potential. Pro Football Focus gave us a huge compliment by saying we had the #2 ranked group of CBs if you count the top 3. I was shocked how much they complimented Dunbar. Fuller has a great shot at being better than Dunbar, but we really don’t know. We don’t know if Breeland will take that next step either. Im very excited to see what this group can do and I’m optomistic that they’ll perform. But I’m not going to get mad about anyone sleeping on them until they see it.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 12, 2016 at 3:03 PM

      Oh, and I’m trying to figure out how Tracy Porter made this list at all. He was a ball hawk a few years ago but has missed more games than he’s played since then.

  2. Eli - Jul 12, 2016 at 6:49 AM

    8 or 9 times out of 10, when a forner player compiles a list such as this it’s probably best just to disregard the content. Conversely, a list from a respected personnel man is worth considering. Like a lot of things, consider the source.

  3. redskins12thman - Jul 12, 2016 at 7:16 AM

    While Ike clearly named some solid tandems, I would like to thank Ike for giving Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland yet another source of motivation to prove the doubters wrong (as if they needed any to begin with). Norman and Breeland are ballers; just you watch. We do need the d-line and OLBs to pressure the quarterbacks too. How CBs are perceived has a lot to do with how the defense as a whole is playing. Expect the safeties to be busy too.

  4. celticsforever - Jul 12, 2016 at 8:50 AM

    Makes for something to read in July, that’s about it. Means about as much to me as my neighbor painting his fence – I see he’s doing it, it looks nice, but in the end I don’t really care one way or the other.

    • wvredskins - Jul 12, 2016 at 11:45 AM

      nicely said.

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 12, 2016 at 11:40 AM

    As 2015 showed, you need depth because injuries are a fact of NFL life.

    So with Norman, Breeland, Dunbar, and Fuller, we have good group of young CBs who are on the rise.

  6. COSSkinsFan - Jul 12, 2016 at 12:25 PM

    So Rich, I have a totally off topic question. Do you think that with our improved wr depth and crowder’s pedestrian punt returns that they would consider putting desean returning punts full time. It’s hard to see him playing all 16 games so eventually one of the young wr’s will get significant playing time. He had that horrible return against Dallas last year but has proven he can take it to the house.

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 12, 2016 at 1:11 PM

      Zero chance. DeSean doesn’t want to do it.

      Not sure he can still “take it to the house”. He last returned a punt for a TD in 2010. That was a long time ago.

      • COSSkinsFan - Jul 12, 2016 at 1:36 PM

        Wow, I didnt realize it had been that long. Thanks for the info.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 12, 2016 at 3:01 PM

          And he’s already a huge injury risk. Why unnecessarily expose him to the hardest hits on the field?

          I would prefer they find a return specialists and bump Ross off the roster.

        • redskins12thman - Jul 13, 2016 at 3:39 AM

          That’s a good reason to have Ross return punts. We need Crowder to fill slot position; not worth risking that. Archives

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