How is the Commanders secondary shaping up heading into the summer?

Darrick Forrest and Kamren Curl
Darrick Forrest and Kamren Curl / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Commanders CB breakdown

At cornerback for the Washington Commanders, returning veterans Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste should be roster locks and should log a lot of minutes. There has been some speculation that the oldest member of the secondary could be released in a salary cap move, but I think that is highly unlikely.

Fuller is the steadiest, most experienced and most versatile player the Commanders have in the backfield, and if he has slowed down at all, he is still an effective player. St-Juste simply needs to prove he can stay healthy.

Washington selected defensive backs in the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. The first-rounder, Emmanuel Forbes, should be an immediate starter.

Ever since the Commanders abandoned the traditional three-linebacker base defense in 2021, they have routinely employed three corners, with one able to play in the box when necessary. I would assume St-Juste and Forbes will play the boundary, while Fuller will float, in the way departed back Bobby McCain did last season.

Behind those starters, a group of young veterans and undrafted free agents will compete to provide depth. The Commanders, like many NFL teams, have made it a priority to target longer corners who can better stand up to the taller receivers that are spreading around the league.

With the exception of the recently-signed Terrell Burgess, none of Washington’s other six new defensive backs are below six foot in height. Last year’s seventh-round draft pick Christian Holmes and free agent signee Tariq Castro-Fields would seem to have a leg up on the field for spots behind the boundary corners.

Rachad Wildgoose and Danny Johnson may be battling for a single position as a slot corner specialist. I think the team would prefer that the younger Wildgoose seize the position, but Johnson is one of the steadiest players the Commanders have had since he entered the league.

He is as tough as they come and has been Washington’s best tackler at the corner position, which is why Wildgoose has also been Washington’s best zone-corner in recent years. His physical limitations make him a liability on the boundary, but he thrives inside.

UDFAs DeMarcus Fields, D.J. Stirgus, and Nick Whiteside are all longshots.

Fields has the best pedigree, playing college ball at Texas Tech before a brief stint with the New Orleans Saints last season. The Commanders scooped him up in the middle of 2022, and he worked on the practice squad last year, which should give him a slight advantage.

Whiteside had a productive Division II college career and has a thicker build, not unlike Johnson. I don’t know if he has enough athleticism to make it as an NFL corner. I actually am most intrigued by the other D2 player the Commanders have in camp, Stirgus.

He bulked up from 160 pounds as a freshman to 200 as a senior and could be the kind of transitional hybrid defensive back that the Commanders seem to like. He’s likely headed for the practice squad in 2023.

If you’re counting along with me, you’ll notice I’m still missing one corner. The Commanders still have Troy Apke on the roster. I’ll leave it at that.