Cornerback wasn’t necessarily the biggest need for the Washington Redskins in the draft, but when the talented but raw Bashaud Breeland fell from his pre-draft expectations of second or third round all the way to the Redskins in the fourth, he was too tempting to pass up. He’s a long, rangy corner with impressive press ability, but fell in the draft due to questions about his speed. He posted a 4.62 40-yard dash time at the combine back in February, which ranked 35th of the 39 cornerbacks that ran there this year.
Speed isn’t everything, and the 40-yard dash is often overvalued by fans. But in Breeland’s case, it matched up with what he put on film in college. He found himself struggling to stay with receivers deep, often getting called for pass interference.
On that play, Breeland lines up in press coverage. The receiver is running a go route down the sideline. Breeland attempts to play physically, to force him towards the sideline and minimize the throwing window. But the receiver is too fast for Breeland to stay with. While Breeland forces him towards the sidelines initially, the receiver soon gains a step on Breeland and draws a pass interference penalty as Breeland desperately grabs onto the receiver and pulls him down.
Some times he got away with some close calls on deep routes.
Here, Florida State lines up three receivers in a ‘bunch trips’ formation. Breeland is playing off coverage, matched up against first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin, who ran a similar 40 time at the combine. Benjiman is running a go route up the sideline.
Like before, the receiver gains a step on Breeland. But this time, the ball is underthrown, forcing Benjamin to slow down and adjust to the ball.
But instead of turning his head to locate the ball, Breeland puts his hands in front of Benjamin’s face to try to deflect the pass.
Benjamin actually manages to come away with the ball, but can’t hold on. Breeland gets lucky that Benjamin wasn’t able to catch the ball and that he wasn’t called for pass interference.
These deep routes are a legitimate concern for Breeland, and are the main reason he fell to the Redskins in the fourth round. But he does show plenty of upside as well. Breeland excels at physical press coverage at the line of scrimmage.
This is Breeland in his element. The receiver is running a quick inside route with Breeland playing tight press coverage.
Breeland is a physical corner. He likes to use his long arms to disrupt receivers’ routes and upset the timing of the play. He gets his hands on the receiver early on this play.
As soon as the ball is thrown, Breeland plays the ball instead of the man. He works around the receiver to get his hand on the pass and deflect it incomplete.
Those quick, short slant routes are seen every Sunday in every NFL offense. You have to play tight and physical to stop them being easy completions for the quarterback. Breeland has excellent instincts in the short passing game while playing press. He’s quick to identify passing concepts and break on the ball.
This time the offense is running a pick play, designed to create traffic for Breeland to work through and give his receiver a yard of space. But Breeland recognizes it early.
He stays physical with his receiver while managing to avoid the traffic. He gets his eyes in the backfield, knowing the ball is coming out quickly on this type of play.
Breeland uses his length again to knock the ball away from the receiver.
His press coverage skills, if developed correctly, could lead him to becoming a starting corner in the future, or at least a contender to be the nickel corner. The good thing for Breeland is that the Redskins have their top three corners set in DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson and Tracy Porter. Barring injury, Breeland won’t be taking any snaps that he isn’t ready for. He’ll have time to work on his coverage on deep routes, and most importantly his tackling.
While he’s a willing tackler, he often takes bad angles and is too easily juked in the open field.
Here, Breeland lined up at safety. Florida state ran a simple curl route. Breeland comes down to make the tackle and save the first down.
But the receiver puts his foot in the ground and then cuts to the outside. Breeland bites completely on the fake.
He misses the tackle completely. What should have been an eight-yard gain turned into a 70-yard touchdown because of Breeland’s missed tackle.
As the Redskins know all too well, you have to be able to tackle on defense. Breeland is a willing tackler, which is a positive. He’s also expected to have a significant role on special teams, which will give him plenty of opportunity to work on his tackling.
Breeland is exactly what you want from a middle-round pick. His strengths and weaknesses are obvious. He has plenty of upside to be developed and could turn out to be a starter down the road. The key for Washington now is to coach and develop him, something they haven’t done all too well recently. Breeland gives them a real chance to prove they are capable of doing so.
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