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Joyce’s Atlanta Falcons Roster Predictions: Defensive Backs

Photo: Atlanta Falcons- https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en

The Atlanta Falcons, along with the rest of the NFL, will have to finalize their 53-Man rosters by Saturday September 5 at 4 p.m. ET. This means that many of the players fighting for a roster spot will be sent home or signed to the practice squad after clearing waivers. In this series, I will do a breakdown of each of the Falcons positions and what they may look like entering the September 5 deadline.

For more content:

Predictions for final cuts: QB [2] | RB [5] | WR [6] | TE [3] | OL [9] | DL [9] | LB [5] | DB [6] | S [4] | SPT [3]

Above you find all the final roster projections for the upcoming final cut to be made on September 5. Here let’s take a look at the Defensive Backs:

The secondary was a struggle for Atlanta in the first half of last year. Well to be fair, the entire defense was a big mess in the Falcon’s first eight games, which is why the team went out and had a big defensive based free agency and draft. But the secondary for Atlanta was arguably the biggest struggle. Call it a lack of talent, call it a terrible scheme choice, either way Atlanta needed to make some changes.

 

In the first eight games last season, Atlanta’s secondary gave up 261.1 yards passing per game which attributed to their 1-7 start as a team. But Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn aggressively added players to bolster the cornerback rotation and hopes for a 2020 turnaround.

The First Round Pick:

I’ll be honest here; I knew a little about A.J. Terrell out of Clemson. But I wasn’t too happy about the Falcons using the 16-overall pick in the draft on the corner out of Clemson, who was last seen getting torched by Jamar Chase and the LSU offense. But once you looked into Terrell overall, it’s obvious why the Falcons selected him. He’s a long, athletic, and sticky cover corner which is what Atlanta desperately needs. He can get into trouble at times by relying on his speed to catch back up after getting beaten on a route. Atlanta is hoping he can come right out of the gate and be a lockdown corner. If the practice notes and twitter videos are correct, it seems like Terrell is already finding his footing out there. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to have to take on the best wide receiver in the NFL everyday at practice.

#1 Corner?:

The Falcons selected Isaiah Oliver with their second-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft and he was viewed as a great value pick. At six feet and 210 pounds, Oliver looks the part of a dominant corner in the NFL. As with the rest of the defense, he really struggled in the first half of last season. This is to be expected some as it was his first full season starting after Falcons cut Robert Alford before the start of the 2019 season. That may not seem good, but Oliver actually played well in the final eight games of the season and they are hoping he can carry that over to this season. He was a big part of the defense that helped Atlanta finish with a 6-2 record in the final eight games, including wins over division champ New Orleans and Super Bowl Runner-up San Francisco. If he can continue to build on that effort from last season, Atlanta’s secondary might not be as concerning as it seems to be.

 

Covering the Slot:

Atlanta tried to run Damontae Kazee in the slot to begin the year last season, mainly due to his efforts as the starting free safety in the 2018 season when Ricardo Allen went down with a torn Achilles. After that didn’t work out as expected the Falcons moved to rookie Kendall Sheffield who was selected out of Ohio State. He was actually a very pleasant surprise. The Falcons selected Sheffield in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft mostly because of his speed. But let’s be honest, is it really a surprise that a defensive back out of Ohio State happened to play very well? Like LSU and Florida, Ohio State is a factory for defensive backs. So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Sheffield took off last year. He even played well when they asked him to move outside. Big things are expected from him this season, but the job will have some stiff competition in the form of newly signed Darqueze Dennard out of Cincinnati. Dennard played well for Cincy after being selected with the 24-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but the team decided to move on from the Michigan State and Twiggs County, Georgia native. But it seems as if Cincy’s loss is Atlanta’s gain. At worst, Dennard will provide solid play and veteran leadership out of the slot this year.

History:

Here is a history of the number of defensive backs the Falcons have kept in recent years:

  • 2017: six defensive backs
  • 2018: six defensive backs
  • 2019: six defensive backs

Guarantees:

These are the players I believe are locks to make the roster:

  • J. Terrell
  • Isaiah Oliver
  • Darqueze Dennard
  • Kendall Sheffield

Fighting for a Spot:

  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson
  • Tyler Hall
  • Josh Hawkins
  • Jordan Miller
  • Delrick Abrams

Final Projections:

I believe the Falcons will once again go with six cornerbacks. They have been consistent in a number of positions on the team, and this is one I don’t for see changing. I believe Blidi has an inside track to take a spot because Wreh-Wilson has been with the team since 2016 and this Falcons’ coaching staff trusts him. The other spot is a battle between the other guys mentioned and it’s one I honestly don’t know what the Falcons do with. My best guess is they keep Jordan Miller. He has played well in camp, but is currently on a four game suspension due to violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy. This seems like a good reason to cut a player, but they did keep Jalen Collins for a while until he failed the program a second time. The other guy I would watch out for is Josh Hawkins.

  • J. Terrell
  • Isaiah Oliver
  • Darqueze Dennard
  • Kendall Sheffield
  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson
  • Jordan Miller
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  1. Pingback: Joyce's Atlanta Falcons Roster Predictions: Tight Ends | SkullKing Sports

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