The Falcons feature several marquee players, and A.J. Terrell is one of them.
After breaking out in 2021, earning All-Pro honors, the Clemson product followed it up with a “down” 2022 campaign. He did take a step back from his breakout year, which was to be expected, as I talked about before 2022.
The trail of receivers Terrell has left in his wake is quite impressive — holding Deebo Samuel, Jaylen Waddle, and Corey Davis to 0 yards in their respective matchups. Moreover, he only surrendered 19 yards to Michael Gallup and 24 yards to Stefon Diggs, who is undoubtedly one of the best receivers in the game.
Terrell allowed the fourth-fewest yards in coverage this past season among all defensive backs with at least 1,000 snaps, and he was first among cornerbacks. He posted league-best marks in several metrics, including completion percentage allowed (41.1%) and yards allowed per target (4.1).
Regression from one of the most remarkable seasons we’ve seen from a cornerback was to be expected, though he regressed a bit more than I anticipated. However, there’s reason to be optimistic about him bouncing back in 2023.
For Terrell, he battled injuries but is still one of the most well-rounded corners in the league, able to play press-man, zone, and defend the run. Terrell’s coverage stats were not good last year, but some of that can be attributed to a poor supporting cast — i.e., poor safety play and a non-existent pass rush.
All this to say, A.J. Terrell might actually be underrated at this point, and Cameron Wolfe of Good Morning Football believes he’s the most underrated defensive back in football.
The MOST underrated DBs in the NFL@_jlove20's picks:
2. Jevon Holland @MiamiDolphins
3. @MikeHilton_28@HoustonTexans @Seahawks @Eagles @AtlantaFalcons @Bengals
Who are we missing?⬇️ pic.twitter.com/b45hqD7d4b
— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) July 13, 2023
Firstly, nobody on the Falcons is going to get credit. It’s been a lousy franchise and has recently been a hard watch on Sundays, generally falling in excruciating fashion. So, it’s no surprise that Terrell is considered among the most underrated. Secondly, it won’t take much for Terrell to re-establish himself in elite territory.
The defense should be much improved, adding talent at all three levels. Moreover, Terrell is already taking matters into his own hands. Sustaining greatness is next, and health is the first step in that direction.
“I’m focused on taking care of my body,” Terrell said, via the team’s website. “The older we get, the more the body wants to shut down. I’m already starting to feel it and understand what the older guys have been talking about all these years. You have to respect the body and do what I’m supposed to do to be able to come out here and play at 100 percent.”
Photographer: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire