Editor's Note: Hours after the publication of this story, the Miramar, Fla. police department announced Quinton Dunbar was issued an arrest warrant for four counts of armed robbery with a firearm and four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. The alleged incident occurred on May 13. Giants' cornerback Deandre Baker was also issued an arrest warrant for his alleged involvement in the incident.
SEATTLE, WA - Midway through one of his first practices with the Redskins back in 2015, undrafted rookie receiver Quinton Dunbar lined up as a defensive back for the punt return team trying to make a strong impression.
Catching the eye of then-coach Jay Gruden, Dunbar made life difficult for receivers trying to get downfield in punt coverage, pressing them off the line with great success. Entering camp as a long shot to make the team, a handful of reps in a special teams drill changed his prospects tremendously.
After seeing him dominate teammates, Gruden immediately approached Dunbar about moving to cornerback, a position the former Florida standout had never played. Despite his lack of experience, he eagerly made the switch the next day and it quickly became apparent he would be a factor for Washington's defense.
"I did two reps and nobody caught the ball and that was history," Dunbar recalled in a Zoom press conference with reporters. "That was all she wrote right there."
Though Dunbar eventually was cut by the Redskins and signed back onto the practice squad, he wound up playing in 11 games as a rookie. His development fast-tracked, he earned more playing time each of the next two years before finally breaking into the starting lineup full time in 2018.
While injuries have been a problem the past two years, Dunbar has been as effective as any cornerback in the NFL when healthy. Last season, he earned the second highest grade for a cornerback behind long-time Seahawks star Richard Sherman courtesy of Pro Football Focus, intercepting four passes and allowing only 29 completions in 11 games.
Entering the last year of a three-year extension signed before the 2018 season, Dunbar will now take his talents to Seattle, who traded a fifth-round pick to Washington to acquire him in March. Looking to carry on the legacy established by Sherman, Browner, and other former members of the "Legion of Boom," he's thrilled for a fresh start with an organization he called a "perfect fit" numerous times on Thursday.
"Their defense is who I am," Dunbar said. "I mean, I'm their ideal corner as far as measurables on top of the type of mentality I have. Growing up watching Sherman and Browner and those type of guys, that's who I tried to model my game after I made the transition to corner."
Standing 6-foot-2 with 32 5/8-inch arms, Dunbar offers the size and length that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll covets at the cornerback position. His prior background as a receiver also is a huge plus, as he exhibits excellent ball skills and recognition of routes in coverage.
As Dunbar cited, his competitive nature and drive to become an elite shutdown corner should also serve him well in Seattle for a team that has thrived in large part due to the success of undrafted players like himself over the years. Without those attributes, he wouldn't have made such a seamless transition to the secondary in the first place.
"What made the transition easy for me was just my will and my mentality," Dunbar explained. "I love to compete and that's half of the battle - competing."
In the past, veteran cornerbacks have had a tough time acclimating to Seattle's defense, primarily due to the technical intricacies associated with the kick-step technique taught by Carroll and his staff.
But after working with former Seahawks player and assistant coach Marquand Manuel, who Dunbar has known since middle school, he's comfortable with the technique. He believes other corners may have struggled due to an unwillingness to adapt away from what has worked for them earlier in their careers.
"It's just taking the step, being patient, then kicking with it," Dunbar confidently said. "I don't really see too much difficulty into it."
Due to team facilities being closed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Dunbar has yet to practice with his new team and has had to learn a new scheme through virtual meetings to this point. When the Seahawks do hit the field, he expects to start at right cornerback, but didn't rule out moving elsewhere, including the slot.
Grateful for a fresh start and being "wanted" by the Seahawks, the former Gator isn't worried about his looming free agency with just one year left on his contract and is chomping at the bit to get started.
"I know what I do when I'm on the field, so I believe in me. All that other stuff [will] take care of itself... I'm happy to be in Seattle and I just want to go out there and play ball and help the team out however I can."