Quinton Dunbar arrived in the NFL as an undrafted receiver hoping to make the roster in Washington. During special teams drills in practice, then-Washington head coach Jay Gruden noticed that his new receiver looked awfully good as a gunner on punt coverage—essentially a cornerback-like role on special teams.
The next day, Dunbar found himself working with cornerbacks in one-on-one drills, and the rest was history. Dunbar has played five seasons in the NFL as a cornerback since making that switch, including last year as a starter when he was Pro Football Focus' second-highest graded corner in the league, and now he's a part of Seattle's secondary following a trade that sent a fifth-round pick to Washington.
Dunbar talked about the trade as a guest on 710 ESPN Seattle on Thursday, and when asked about what allowed him to make the position switch in the NFL, his answer was one that should help him fit right in in Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's "Always Compete" world.
"My number one trait is competing," Dunbar told the Danny and Gallant show. "I just love to compete and go out there and compete against guys."
Dunbar said he had some say in where he was traded, and felt like Seattle was a perfect fit.
"I had opportunities with a couple of teams, and I wanted to go to Seattle," he said. "And at the end of the day I feel like it's a perfect situation for me, you know, to go out there and play for a team that competes for a championship every year."
As a college receiver at Florida, Dunbar said he admired the Seahawks' Legion of Boom defense from afar, and after moving to cornerback he studied the play of Richard Sherman, another receiver turned cornerback.
"I grew up I was still in college watching those guys," he said. "I wasn't a DB at the time but you know, the Legion of Boom, watching Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman, when I made that transition you know I watched a lot of film on Richard Sherman and things of that nature, so you know I mean I know they got great history back then I'm just looking forward to be a part of that secondary and helping however I can."
Between Dunbar's 6-foot-2, long-armed frame, his competitive nature and his receiver background, the Sherman comparisons are going to be somewhat inevitable, but while Dunbar has plenty of respect for the All-Pro corner, he isn't trying to be Richard Sherman.
"I respect Richard Sherman, I feel like he's been one of the best in the game for a while, but I'm no Richard Sherman, I'm Quinton Dunbar. I'm my own man," he said.
One thing that should help Dunbar make an easier transition to a new team is that he is familiar with a technique that can be challenging for some cornerbacks to learn when they come to Seattle. Pete Carroll, a defensive backs coach long before he was one of football's most accomplished head coaches, has been teaching corners to play with a step-kick technique for decades, and it's a style of play that requires a lot of patience and can be challenging for some corners. Dunbar didn't play in a defense that used that technique in Washington, but he is quite familiar with it having worked with another former Florida defensive back, Marquand Manuel, who spent three seasons as an assistant on Carroll's defense from 2012-2014 before joining Dan Quinn in Atlanta as the Falcons' secondary coach, then later as their defensive coordinator.
"I'm not new to some of the things that they do in Seattle, which I kind of already implemented in my game, with the step-kick and stuff like that," Dunbar said. "I worked with a coach who has been over there, and that I knew for a while since I was a kid, Marquand Manuel… I kind of implemented some of those things in my game years ago. So I'm just looking to go out there and help the team whichever way I can."
Dunbar will get around to helping the Seahawks when he can, but for now he's like just about everyone else, staying at home while the world deals with the COVID-19 crisis. It isn't all bad for Dunbar, who is enjoying the extra time with his 3-year-old daughter, including some karaoke—he even sang a few notes of "Let it Go" from the movie "Frozen" during his interview.
"I mean I have a beautiful daughter who's three years old, and outside of football that's what I enjoy doing," he said. "Being with her and being around her and creating those moments with her. So that's what I do best outside of football."