DeAngelo Hall: Seahawks’ Dunbar and Griffin could be a top CB duo
The Seahawks acquired cornerback Quinton Dunbar from the Washington Redskins for a fifth-round pick earlier this offseason with the expectation that he could be one of the team’s two starting cornerbacks in 2020 along with 2019 Pro Bowler Shaquill Griffin.
While we wait for his legal situation in Florida stemming from an alleged armed robbery that he and his lawyer have disputed his involvement in to be resolved, the hope is Dunbar can come in and contribute at a high level for a Seattle defense that wasn’t very good in 2019.
To learn more about Dunbar and what he brings to the table for the Seahawks, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore talked to someone who knows him very well in DeAngelo Hall, Dunbar’s teammate in Washington who was a three-time Pro Bowler before he retired. Now, Hall is an analyst for NFL Network.
When Dunbar entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2015 after playing receiver in college at Florida. His ability to jam players on the line on special teams intrigued coaches, and he moved to corner, where he’s been ever since. Hall, who was with the Redskins from 2008 to 2017, got to see Dunbar’s transformation better than nearly anyone.
“Oh man, just a true student of the game,” Hall said of his former teammate. “You never would have thought seeing this kid play receiver the first day we saw him that he would end up transitioning into being one of the elite corners in this league.”
Hall said he and the Washington staff played a big role in teaching Dunbar how to play corner at a high level, and that the mental side of the game was a big part of Dunbar’s learning curve.
“It’s about studying the game and understanding route combinations and really mastering your defense and playing chess with guys instead of playing checkers,” Hall said. “That’s the biggest thing I think I imparted into him and just the work ethic and the grind, man. He’s become a technician.”
As noted, Dunbar played receiver in college, as did former Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and Hall played some receiver in college as well. Hall believes that gives Dunbar a bit of an edge since he understands the intricacies of the position better than other defensive backs.
“He was able to understand a lot of (what opposing receivers are trying to do) because he played college-level receiver and NFL-level receiver when he made the transition,” Hall said. “So for us, it was just to try and get him to think about everything from a defensive standpoint but to use all the offensive knowledge you’ve got and that’ll be the advantage that nobody else or a lot of other guys don’t have.”
If all goes right for Dunbar, who is reportedly still partaking in Seattle’s virtual offseason as his legal situation plays out, he can line up opposite Griffin, who in his third year in the NFL, had a career year in coverage that earned him his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
While Griffin has a knack for locking down receivers and breaking up passes, he has just three career picks and had none in 2019. Hall said he’s a big fan of Griffin’s game, but until he can regularly intercept passes, he won’t be in that elite cornerback conversation.
“A lot of corners are judged by ‘do you get the football?’ so it’s hard to put a guy in the elite category when he doesn’t consistently get the football,” he said. “That doesn’t mean he can’t get the football … I love Shaquill’s game, but the league values getting the football and so until you can consistently get the football, it’s hard to compete with some of these other top corners … and Shaquill, when he starts to be able to get the football consistently, he’ll definitely be right at the top of those rankings with the rest of those guys. ”
Hall, who mentioned he worked a lot with Dunbar early in his career, said he’d love to do the same with Griffin. Regardless, he thinks Dunbar and Griffin are a potentially dangerous cornerback duo heading into 2020.
“I’d love to be able to get my hands on him and work with him because I see all the potential in how great he can be teaming him up with Dunbar, man, those two dudes are going to be some of the nicest tandem of young corners in the National Football League,” Hall said. “Both those kids can run, and when they have an opportunity, they make football plays.”
You can listen to Hall’s full conversation with Bob, Dave and Moore, which includes his thoughts on Seattle’s pass rush and Jadeveon Clowney, at this link or in the player below.