At 6'2" 203 pounds, Quinton Dunbar is a big defensive back. With a 4.44 40 yard dash and a 35" vertical, he's also our fastest and most explosive. Dunbar, who is still a work in progress at corner, may be a better overall fit at safety for a defense starving for a true center fielder.
Teammates have raved about Dunbar's speed and athleticism. His mates called him the fastest defensive back on the team, and those same players praised his ball skills. Being a former receiver, this should not come as a surprise for anyone however.
"I mean me playing receiver helped me out a lot, knowing receiver tendencies and stuff," Dunbar said. "I mean, like I said, basically the technique, overall just learning the defense, knowing where your help at and things like that."
So, for a young man still learning the cornerback position, why would you want to make yet another switch now? There are a few good reasons:
First, the cornerback position is pretty stable with Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland on the outside, and Kendal Fuller and Dashaun Phillips in the slot. The safety position is very unsettled, especially at free safety, so Dunbar could make a greater impact for the long-term on the back end.
Second, Dunbar does not have what you'd call "cornerback hips". I'm not saying he's stiff as a corpse, but he doesn't possess that smooth transition out of his backpedal that typical NFL corners have. He tends to sit a bit high in his backpedal, and his steps are elongated, which negates a quick turnaround. This also hurts his potential to play in the slot, as loose hips are an absolute must at that position.
Third, and as you saw in his quote above; being a former receiver, he understands tendencies, route combos, and body positioning of the receivers. Being back at free safety, he could sit back, read the receivers, and just react.
Finally, this kid has exceptional straight-line speed. Once the ball is in the air, he can get there in a hurry. When he does arrive, he has the ball skills to go up and highpoint the football, and the size and leaping ability to take on big receivers downfield.
The one concern I have with Dunbar is his open-field tackling ability. He's shown glimpses as a corner, but he still remains inconsistent. He's more of a get-em-to-the-ground type of tackler, than he is a big hitter; and that is alright, but I worry when he has to take on a 220 pound running back when they break past the second level of our defense - and this happens quite often to us. But, if you remember, DeAngelo Hall was not always thought of as a great tackler, and that aspect of his game has improved over time, so there is no reason to think the same can not happen for Dunbar.
Now, I'm not saying that this would be a slam-dunk move for Dunbar, but it may be one that helps him see the field with a little more regulatory, and if he can hone his skills on the back end, there is no telling what he could become.
I have learned never to count this kid out. Maybe we should all be counting him in as our next free safety!