As the league continues to evolve, and in the case of defense, as it continues to be more reliant on sub-packages like nickel and dime coverages, the cornerback position, specifically depth at that position, grows increasingly important.
With this in mind, Pro Football Focus ranked the best cornerback groups in the NFL right now and picked the Redskins as having the third best, trailing just the Broncos and Cardinals.
Now, you might believe this is all because of signing Josh Norman in April, and he certainly plays a role in this ranking (one stat they provide explains that Norman allowed 50 yards in a game just once in 2015). But, as PFF argues, and rightly so, this list comprises more than the talents of one player.
"Even before the acquisition of Norman, this was a cornerback corps on the rise," they write. "[Bashaud] Breeland had a breakout campaign in 2015, allowing 50 yards or more only three times after Washington's Week 8 bye. [Quinton] Dunbar, an undrafted free agent and wide-receiver conversion, showed his potential in the wildcard defeat to Green Bay by breaking up two passes and allowing only 41 yards on seven receptions."
That Breeland should only stand to get better this season and that Dunbar will have a full offseason learning the finer points of his position (remember, he didn't switch to corner until late in training camp last year), should provide even more optimism.
And then the additions of a veteran in Greg Toler and a third-round draft choice in Jonathan Allen should supply even more promise.
With Norman becoming a teacher, even as he continues to learn a new defense, the group looks to make some major strides.
"All he does is work and try to get himself better and try to get his teammates better, and that's what it's all about," Gruden said of Norman. "He's a great football player, but I think right now he's shown that he's also a great teammate."