Falcons’ A.J. Terrell slides down PFF’s CB rankings

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The Falcons feature a number of veterans that joined the team through free agency — Calais Campbell, David Onyemata, and Jessie Bates III to name a few. But the club also boasts an impressive young core of talent. Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Kyle Pitts, and Drake London are all bright offensive weapons brought in by the new regime, but Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot inherited a couple of talented pieces from the former regime in Chris Lindstrom and AJ Terrell.

Two All-Pros and two players among the best at their positions. Chris Lindstrom was ranked the fourth-best guard in football after PFF graded him out as the best guard in 2023, but A.J. Terrell regressed a bit following his All-Pro 2022 campaign. PFF has the Clemson product ranked as the 12th-best cornerback entering 2023.


Terrell is a great case study in the volatility of coverage and cornerback performance. His rookie season was solid before a breakout sophomore campaign saw him play like an All-Pro with an 85.6 PFF coverage grade. In 2022, his play dropped back down to earth and he allowed nine touchdowns. Terrell definitely possesses the ability to be an elite cornerback but needs to prove he can find that play again in 2023.

Guys like Jaycee Horn, Jamel Dean, and Charvarius Ward were ranked ahead of Terrell, but I don’t know if I totally disagree. He did take a step back from his All-Pro year, which was to be expected, as I talked about.

The trail of receivers Terrell has left in his wake is quite impressive — holding Deebo SamuelJaylen 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 expected. However, there’s reason to be optimistic about him bouncing back in 2023.

Atlanta’s defense was talentless. There’s only so much he could do playing behind the pathetic front seven. The Falcons’ defense should be much improved from a year ago, with the additions of Jessie Bates III, Calais Campbell, and David Onyemata. With more help around him, I would be willing to wager A.J. Terrell will be much higher on this list next offseason.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire



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