Redskins Shouldn't Vacate Breeland Island Just Yet

The confident cornerback struggled in 2016, leading to questions about his potential and talk about a position change.

By Jamual Forrest, Special to Breaking Burgundy

We all know the story behind cornerback Bashaud Breeland by now. Drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins in 2014, Breeland went from "who?" to "hey!" in his first career start on Monday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys. The rookie and fellow corner David Amerson held premier receiver Dez Bryant to just three catches for 30 yards. Breeland made plays all over the field including two passes defended while covering the Cowboys' star.

These types of performances by the former Clemson product against the opposing team’s best receiver popped up over his first two NFL seasons with Washington. When the Redskins added elite corner Josh Norman in 2016, projections for Breeland's third campaign and Washington's secondary overall went even higher.

Not all projections pan out. Breeland's 2016 season largely did not. That's why forecasting his 2017 campaign isn't so simple.

2016 could not have gotten off to a worse start and that's not even in reference to the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers when Antonio Brown spun Breeland around like a top. When Washington signed Norman to a massive contract in April of 2016, Breeland expressed feelings of being disrespected. He wanted the top corner role and the Redskins signed someone else for that job. The tone was set heading into the regular season.

Breeland wanted to prove he was indeed a number one corner, but it didn’t start well when the Steelers came into town in Week 1. Struggles continued particularly early in the season and often when coverage schemes essentially put Breeland in that desired role against the opponent's best. Had Breeland regressed? Yes, compared to his first two years.

However, it’s important to mention his level of play began to noticeably increase from week 11 against Philadelphia on. Breeland finished his 2016 campaign with 71 combined tackles, 2 force fumbles, 1 sack, 3 interceptions, and 11 passes defensed. Yet whispers about a position change to safety grew. 

That’s not the answer. A position change is too drastic for a bad year. With signs of stability late in 2016 Breeland can improve his stock as a corner this upcoming season. He is set to be a free agent after the 2017 season. By leaving him at corner and perhaps at least hint at a contract extension before his rookie deal ends, Washington could give the proud defender some confidence. Extension or not, don’t be so quick to give up on Breeland. His competitive nature along with his desire to be the best won’t allow 2016 to define him.

Follow Jamual on Twitter @_AyyMall.

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