Evaluating how coaches and players speak about the position, it feels as if there is a quiet excitement for the Washington Football Team cornerbacks in the 2020 season. The team signed Kendall Fuller in free agency and expect him to be an elite match-up piece. Meanwhile, Ronald Darby and Fabian Moreau have shown that they can be impressive boundary cornerbacks when put in the right position to succeed. Former 2018 rookie starter Greg Stroman is having a very strong camp and “the people’s cornerback” Jimmy Moreland will compete for time at the nickel position.

If the scheme is strong and players are utilized to their maximum potential, the cornerbacks could be a strength for the team. On the other hand, if the team continues to misuse these players the secondary will once again be a complete liability to an otherwise talented defense.

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Washington Cornerbacks 2020

Cornerbacks on the roster

  • Kendall Fuller
  • Fabian Moreau
  • Ronald Darby
  • Greg Stroman
  • Jimmy Moreland
  • Ryan Lewis
  • Danny Johnson
  • Aaron Colvin

The starters

If I was a betting man, I’d bet that the starting cornerbacks for Week 1 against Philadelphia are Darby and Moreau on the boundary with Fuller manning the nickel. When opponents come out in a 3WR and 1TE set, expect Fuller to cover the tight-end with Moreland or Stroman to come out as the 4th CB.

Fuller was an elite slot CB for Washington before the team traded him to Kansas City as a part of the trade that put Alex Smith in the burgundy and gold. Fuller struggled some with the Chiefs because the team asked him to play on the boundary. However, when they moved him inside and started utilizing him as a match-up coverage piece he shined. Expect Fuller to be used in a similar fashion in Washington, blanketing opposing tight-end and slot cornerbacks while being a strong run defender from the slot.

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Moreau was highly touted coming out of UCLA, and many draft pundits viewed him as a potential first-round selection. He, unfortunately, tore his pectoral muscle during the draft process and he slid to Washington in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Moreau is an elite athlete who is best suited to play man coverage as an outside corner, but Washington has been crowded on the boundary the past few seasons and he was relegated to the slot last year. He struggled heavily, but when the team moved him to the outside for the last third of the season he actually played some high-quality football. Moreau has the ability to be Washington’s best cornerback in Jack Del Rio’s system.

Darby has had a different career path than Moreau but has faced similar issues. He was an excellent athlete coming out of college and the Buffalo Bills took him in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He had some strong seasons in Buffalo and was traded to Philadelphia where he was decent for the Eagles early in his time there but really struggled to be consistent in their defensive scheme.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is notorious for trying to hide coverages and has an internal need to constantly be the smartest man in the room when sometimes he just isn’t. The Eagles secondary has consistently struggled despite having above-average talent, and it’s a major reason Darby had a hard time there. He’s in a good place to have a bounce-back year with Washington.

The heavy rotation

The first boundary corner to come off the bench will likely be third-year player Stroman. He played good football for Washington in his rookie season, especially when considering he was one of the last 20 selections in that draft class. Stroman has had a very strong training camp according to reports, and he could be a very good depth piece for the team this year with starter upside in the near future.

Related | Washington offensive players on the roster bubble in 2020

Moreland, otherwise known as “the people’s cornerback” is a fan-favorite and has a nose for the football. He’s undersized even for the average NFL defensive back, but he plays aggressive and his ball skills make him a threat on the field. Moreland has received some reps with the first string this season, so expect him to be a consistent contributor in the cornerback rotation.

Fighting for the final spot

I can’t imagine Washington carries more than six cornerbacks on the roster so that means the trio of Ryan Lewis, Aaron Colvin, and Danny Johnson will be battling for the final roster spot. Colvin, the oldest of the bunch, seems the least likely to win the spot. Colvin has played in 65 career games, failing to register an interception and has never made a major impact in the NFL. His best season to date was in 2015 with the Jaguars.

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Johnson has been with Washington the longest of this trio, as he was signed as a UDFA with the team after the completion of the 2018 NFL Draft. Johnson was a fan favorite as it was easy to root for him. He was an unheralded draft prospect out of Southern University who made an impact in his rookie mini-camp which led him to receive a training camp invite and then he played 14 games for the team that season. Not an elite athlete, but good enough and he’s solid and consistent in coverage.

Lewis is the final member of Washington’s cornerback group. Lewis was undrafted out of the University of Pittsburgh and bounced around the NFL before finding a home with the Miami Dolphins last year. He started three games for the Dolphins last season, registering five pass deflections and an interception. I actually had a few Miami fans tweet at me and let me know they were fans of what Lewis did for the team last year. He’s a competitor and will fight tooth and nail for the final roster spot.

Roster prediction

  • Kendall Fuller
  • Fabian Moreau
  • Ronald Darby
  • Greg Stroman
  • Jimmy Moreland
  • Ryan Lewis

Overview

Many fans and analysts are low on the Washington cornerbacks, and rightfully so. They’re going into 2020 with three new starters from Week 1 last year and a complete overhaul of the coaching staff. However, if you watched Washington’s cornerbacks last year, that overhaul should be viewed as a positive. The team brought in players who fit their scheme, and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio should be expected to get more out of these defenders than they have. If you expect Washington to have poor cornerback play in the 2020 season I can’t blame you, but don’t be surprised if they’re better than you expect.