One of the first things the Redskins did after the completion of last season was to sign cornerback Quinton Dunbar to a multi-year contract extension. This was as much a move to ensure depth at the position as it was a commitment to Dunbar's future as a potential starting cornerback in the NFL.
"When you talk about corners, you talk about measurables. He's got the measurables," head coach Jay Gruden said following the second day of OTAs. "He's got the length, he's got the speed, now it's just a matter of him getting comfortable with his coverages and obviously his techniques."
Entering his fourth year with the Redskins, Dunbar, the former undrafted Florida Gator wide receiver, showed glimpses on Wednesday of why Gruden remains confident in the young transitioned defensive back.
Though just one of a handful of defensive snaps Dunbar played, he took responsibility to cover new wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr. on deep ball that quarterback Alex Smith tried to hit for the second time on the afternoon. The ball, slightly underthrown, provided a 50-50 opportunity, which Dunbar, using his "measurables," batted down easily.
"Just going through the progression, reading the quarterback drop, seeing the seven step drop and just standing on top and making a play," Dunbar said. "Pretty much it."
Each year in the league, Dunbar has steadily improved. He participated in 51 percent of snaps in 2017 and set career highs in games played (15), tackles (35) and passes defensed (8), while hauling in one interception.
"I'm getting comfortable by the day, man," Dunbar said. "It's crazy from year one to year four how much knowledge I've gained about the game of playing defense, of breaking down offenses and things like that. Night and day."
That's meant a complete shift in mentality. As a wide receiver for a good portion of his high school and college days, it's taken some time to fully transition to a defensive way of thinking. Dunbar admits he still doesn't know everything yet, but has reached a point where he feels confident helping younger defensive backs with their technique.
Dunbar said he focused on everything when it came to improving this offseason, a blanket term that he soon clarified was more about deepening his understanding of film study and defensive concepts. "I feel like if I got the mental edge over you then everything else will come into place. Each week you're playing against top athletes, so you got to try to get an edge over them and my edge is more mental than anything," he said.
Here's photos from the Washington Redskins OTAs practice that took place Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park, presented by Loudoun Economic Development.
"I think James [Rowe] and Torrian [Gray] have done a great job with him, and Dunny has done a good job of really studying the game, not just bump-and-run man-to-man, but different coverages, squat techniques and deep-third techniques," Gruden said. "All that stuff, he's doing a much better job, more comfortable in the system."
Dunbar figures to compete this year with Fabian Moreau, entering his second year, and with the addition of veteran Orlando Scandrick, who Gruden will likely plug into the slot position, Dunbar feels confident the team's secondary will remain formidable.
"It feels great. Just being out here, not even saying that I got more of an opportunity or an increased role, it just feels great to be out here with the guys because everybody is not blessed to play this game," Dunbar said. "There's only a small percentage that can come out here and say 'I play NFL ball every day.' So just being around the guys and something I love to do is a blessing itself and everything that comes with it."