When Jay Gruden was asked to discuss the Redskins’ decision to draft Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland, the head coach said one attribute jumped out: his physicality.
“The way he plays and the style he plays really fits what any defense does because he’s physical,” Gruden said of Breeland, who was suspended for a half last season after being assessed a penalty for "targeting” Jameis Winston in the previous contest. “He can tackle and, obviously, he can play press with the best of them.”
Breeland joins a Redskins’ corps of corners that is headlined by DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tracy Porter and E.J. Biggers. And while it’s far too early to know where Breeland fits in, Gruden noted that the team's newest defensive back can also play safety and is a rugged contributor on special teams, which was a focus for the Redskins in this draft.
“The coaches at Clemson said that he’s a possible safety,” Gruden said. “He has played safety. We talk about position flexibility all the time, and that’s another thing that drew us to him. He’s not only a corner, [he can play] safety and special teams. You will find a use for him because he’s such a good football player and he’s physical.”
Gruden also felt fortunate to get Breeland in the fourth round (102nd overall).
“I think the coaches we talked with [Saturday] felt like he’d be a late first or second round pick,” he added. “I heard [NFL Network analyst] Mike Mayock say he was a projected first rounder if he stayed another year.”
Breeland said one reason he left Clemson after three seasons was to support his soon-to-be one year old daughter. Gruden, meantime, said Breeland slid down the Redskins’ board because of his ordinary 4.59-second 40 time at the combine. But Gruden was quick to point out that he believes Breeland possesses the tools to overcome a lack of blazing speed.
“We are very excited,” Gruden added. “Not only for special teams but we feel like he’s a technician at corner. We knocked him down [in] our rounds because he probably didn’t run the greatest 40 time at the combine, but he’s a heck of a football player. I like guys that are physical tackling machines, and that’s what he is.”