Kendall Fuller is entering his fifth season in the NFL in 2020.
Fuller, of course, spent his first two years with the Washington Redskins after being picked in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. After a strong second season, Fuller, along with a third-round pick, was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for quarterback Alex Smith.
Now, Fuller and Smith are teammates in Washington after the former Virginia Tech star agreed to a four-year, $40 million-dollar deal to return to the Redskins in March.
Fuller had a solid two years with the Chiefs. Kansas City played Fuller all over the secondary from the slot to outside corner and even some at free safety. Fuller is capable of playing each position well, however, he showed back in 2017 he is arguably the premier slot corner in the NFL.
The Redskins have quietly restructured the cornerback position this offseason with Fuller being the top newcomer.
Washington signed Sean Davis to play free safety opposite Landon Collins, so the coaching staff likely intends to use Fuller in the slot, at least initially.
Ronald Darby and Fabian Moreau are ideal on the outside. Unfortunately, both players have had trouble staying healthy. The coaching staff also loves Jimmy Moreland and he will be in the mix on the outside, too.
Inside the Numbers:
As a rookie in 2016, Fuller played in 13 games, making six starts. At the time, he was still not quite 100 percent from a knee injury he suffered at the beginning of his final college season at Virginia Tech.
That season, he recorded 42 tackles.
It was in 2017 when Fuller arrived. Playing in all 16 games, Fuller became Washington’s primary slot corner and had a terrific season. He made 55 tackles, had 10 passes defended, and four interceptions.
He finished that season with a 90.6 overall grade from Pro Football Focus and was arguably the top slot cornerback in the NFL.
Then, the Redskins sent Fuller to Kansas City.
In his first year with the Chiefs, Fuller was solid. He started all 15 games he played, recorded a career-high 82 tackles, 12 passes defended and two interceptions.
However, he split time between the slot and outside as Kansas City needed him more on the outside. Per PFF, his coverage grade went down from 91.2 to 70.8.
In 2019, it was much of the same for Fuller. He split time between different positions, displaying the versatility that makes him a coach’s dream. Unfortunately, he was limited to 11 games, including four starts, due to an injury.
In his four seasons in the NFL, the 25-year-old Fuller has played in 55 of a possible 64 games, made 31 starts, accrued 228 tackles, including eight for loss and six interceptions.
The 2019 season wasn’t Fuller’s best year in the NFL. However, he wasn’t bad, either. Here is Fuller showing his ability to diagnose from the safety position and finishing the play with a textbook tackle.
Fuller’s most memorable performance came in Super Bowl LIV when he picked off a Jimmy Garoppolo pass to help secure the Super Bowl win for Kansas City.
What They’re Saying:
New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has a strong reputation around the league. The Redskins are counting on Del Rio to get more results out of a remade secondary, which still has plenty of questions.
As Del Rio said recently, one reason he is excited about that group is Fuller.
Make no mistake, the coaches know what they have in Fuller, that’s why he signed a big deal this offseason. Del Rio acknowledged having smart and talented players like Fuller will allow him to play a variety of coverages.
Head coach Ron Rivera spoke with NBC Sports Washington back in April and discussed Fuller. Rivera again praised Fuller’s versatility and specifically mentioned he could play outside corner or slot, but also said he could line up at free safety, too.
ESPN’s Mike Clay is projecting Fuller to play 927 snaps, which is second on the team in his projections behind safety Landon Collins. Clay also projects Fuller to finish fourth on the team with 79 tackles, while also recording an interception and sack.
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Bryan Manning writes about the Washington Redskins for RedskinsReport.com and contributes to "All Hokies" on SI.com. He has covered the NFL, MLB, NBA, college football and college basketball for almost 10 years for various outlets such as Bleacher Report, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today SMG, and others. For his day job, Bryan works in engineering for a major communications company.