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Five Things To Know About Cornerback Kendall Fuller

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Kendall Fuller will be back in the nation's capital very soon.

The Redskins officially announced the signing of Fuller on March 21. The 25-year-old defensive back began his NFL career in Washington as a 2016 third-round pick and spent his first two seasons in the burgundy and gold.

Now he will return to his hometown team, ready to help head coach Ron Rivera turn the franchise into a consistent winner.

Here are five things to know about Fuller:

1. Fuller was born and raised in the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Fuller was born in Baltimore and grew up in Olney, Maryland, before attending Our Lady of Good Counsel, where he played with current Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

By his senior year, Fuller was one of the nation's best recruits. He was named Maryland Gatorade Football Player of the Year and U.S. Army All-American Defensive Player of the Year after starring as a receiver and defensive back. He was the 17th-best prospect in the Class of 2012, according to 247Sports, and the No. 3 cornerback.

Fuller chose to continue his playing career at Virginia Tech and immediately became a difference maker, winning ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year following a campaign that included six interceptions and 11 pass breakups. He followed that up with 13 pass breakups and two interceptions as a sophomore.

Despite playing three games the next season because of a torn meniscus, Fuller declared for the NFL Draft following his junior campaign, and the Redskins still selected him 84th overall in 2016.

2. Fuller was a part of the trade that brought Alex Smith to the Redskins.

Fuller worked his way up the depth chart upon arriving in Washington. He was the fifth cornerback to begin the 2016 regular season, but injuries and growth led to him appearing in 13 games (six starts).

By that next summer, he was the starting nickelback and No. 3 corner on the roster. In 16 games (six starts), he recorded 42 tackles, broke up 10 passes and made four interceptions.

But before Fuller could earn even more responsibility within the Redskins defense, the franchise traded him and a third-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for Smith.

3. Rivera likes players with "positional flexibility." Fuller is one of those players.

The Redskins drafted Fuller as a cornerback, but he's shown the ability to play nearly anywhere in the secondary over his first four NFL seasons. After serving as the Redskins starting slot corner in 2017, he became the No. 1 corner on the Chiefs' roster after Marcus Peters was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. In 15 games, Fuller set career highs in total tackles (82), solo tackles (64) and pass breakups (12) to go along with a pair of interceptions.

Fuller missed about six weeks with a fractured thumb last season, and he barely played upon returning to the field. But thanks to his versatility, he earned back significant playing time as a hybrid safety-corner for the end of the regular season and throughout the playoffs.

"Kendall Fuller, he kind of plays everywhere," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told the Kansas City Star in January. "And he's a brilliant guy with a great football mind. ... I always tell him that he'd be a great coach. He knows everything. He wants to know everything."

The most important play of Fuller's career came in the final moments of Super Bowl LIV, when his interception of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sealed the Chiefs' championship triumph.

4. Fuller has already shown he's capable of being one of the NFL's best slot corners.

Rivera said at the NFL Scouting Combine that he believes the Redskins can replace Josh Norman with the young cornerbacks on the roster. As it stands, that would likely mean Fabian Moreau, who took over once Norman was benched, would start opposite veteran Quinton Dunbar.

With that alignment, Fuller could work out of the slot, which is where he's performed at his best during his NFL career.

In 2017, Fuller finished second among qualifying cornerbacks with an overall grade of 90.6, according to Pro Football Focus, and was one of four cornerbacks to receive a coverage grade of at least 90.0.

He also earned a slot coverage grade of 90.2, which was the highest out of seven players who logged at least 400 coverage snaps out of the slot.

5. "Nobody is smarter than Kendall Fuller."

In Fuller, the Redskins are getting a cerebral defender who craves information. Just ask his former coaches and teammates.

"Nobody is smarter than Kendall Fuller," Reid said during a press conference in December of 2019. "He's a brilliant guy, great football mind."

"[Fuller] is one of the smartest guys I've been around," Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward told the Kansas City Star in January. "In the [defensive backs'] classroom, he's helped me a lot as far as teaching me techniques. He's one of the smartest teammates I've ever had."

Back in Washington, Fuller will join a voracious film watcher in Dunbar and several younger corners, such 2019 seventh-round pick Jimmy Moreland. Together, they'll aim to improve on a passing defense that ranked 15th in the NFL last season with 238.9 passing yards allowed per game.

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