The Redskins ranked 28th in total defense last year, but if you're wondering why they didn't go after a defensive player in the first round of the NFL Draft, head coach Jay Gruden had a simple answer Thursday.
"We addressed defense the other day with Josh Norman."
Washington selected wide receiver Josh Doctson with the 22nd overall pick, and Gruden admitted that adding Norman did slightly alter the team's approach to the draft. Making his first public comments on Norman since Friday's signing, Gruden said the marriage between team and player came together pretty quickly.
"It’s one of those things that just fell into our lap, man," Gruden said. "It was an unbelievable couple of days. Get [Norman] down here, fly his family in here, get a chance to meet him. Then (Redskins VP of Football Administration) Eric Schaffer battling with the agent, trying to get the contract done and keep him in the building. It was an exciting 24 hours there and we’re happy as heck to get him. I think he's one of the premier corners in the NFL."
Gruden will be very happy to see Norman picking off passes for his team this season. The Redskins corralled just 11 interceptions last year, which tied for the fifth-fewest in the league. Norman had four interceptions in 2015.
"He’s got great ball skills, he’s a ball hawk," Gruden said of Norman. "You can’t coach that – you really can’t. There’s a skill set you have to have as a defensive back that he has all that skill set, but he also has the ability to get the ball back for the offense, and that’s the most appealing thing.
"Josh is really good because he plays great with his eyes. He’s got the ability cover his receiver while looking at the quarterback and having a great feel for route concepts and breaking on the quarterback’s throws, which is another thing that’s very hard to coach."
Breaking Burgundy publisher Ben Standig contributed to this report from Ashburn.
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