The Washington Redskins added their fourth new defensive back of the offseason when it selected Adonis Alexander with a sixth-round pick in the supplemental draft last week. That number jumps to seven when including undrafted free agents.
Teams can never be too deep in the defensive backfield in today’s pass-happy NFL and the Redskins are attempting to cover their bases after losing starters Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller this offseason.
“I think I can definitely add another ball-hawking defender,” Alexander said last week. “They already have a lot of great DBs there but, just adding depth. I feel like I can add a lot to the special teams, also. … A hard-nosed defender, passionate player, great teammate, physical presence.”
The expectations are for cornerbacks Fabian Moreau and Quinton Dunbar to take the next step in their progression and help fill the holes left by Breeland and Fuller. Veteran Orlando Scandrick signed in free agency and brings 10 years of experience along with the versatility of being able to play corner or nickel. All three received first-team snaps during offseason workouts.
Dunbar received a three-year, $10.5 million contract in January and Moreau is in his second year after being selected in the third round of the 2017 draft.
“I think [Dunbar] just wants to have an opportunity to play consistently, which he will this year,” Redskins defensive backs coach Torrian Gray said during summer practices. “He didn’t always have that opportunity because he wasn’t the nickel corner, he wasn’t the starting right or left corner last year. I think he sees an opportunity. Yeah, the contract is good, but just him knowing he’s going to play because he believes in his ability, he believes in his progression and him getting better. …
“I expect Fabian to be able to contribute [for] us. At some point this year he’s going to have to contribute [for] us. He’s got a learning curve that’s gotten better. He’s been great in the meeting rooms, taking some stuff out here to the field. … I’m expecting big things from him and Dunbar.”
The Redskins used a fourth-round pick on Penn State safety Troy Apke and a seventh-round pick on cornerback Greg Stroman in April’s draft. Safety Quin Blanding (Virginia) and cornerbacks Danny Johnson (Southern) and Ranthony Texada (TCU) were added as undrafted free agents.
D.J. Swearinger returns as a starting safety while Montae Nicholson is another youngster with the chance to grab a starting job and a larger role after being selected in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. Deshazor Everett signed a two-year, $2.6 million deal in March before he hit restricted free agency and is competing to start with Swearinger.
“I really, really like our safety group,” Gray said. “You’ve got Montae, you’ve got D.J., who are second years into the system and what we’re doing. We’re familiar with what they can do. Deshazor Everett has taken leaps and bounds from where he’s come from last year. Troy Apke is a talented guy who’s in a learning process.
“I think you’ve got four really good safeties there. Then you’ve got [Kenny] Ladler, Fish Smithson, you’ve got Blanding, guys who are learning and come up.”