Terry Fontenot prioritized versatility when drafting defensive players, and fourth-round pick Darren Hall epitomizes just that. Off the field, he’s a home run as a former team captain at San Diego State and highly regarded as the smartest member of the defense. Not only does he have it between the ears, but his dedication to the weight room is equally impressive. At the very least, he’ll provide leadership and depth at multiple positions — safety and cornerback.
As a freshman in college, Hall saw playing time at safety but transitioned to cornerback in 2018. The reason I believe he could develop into a starting-caliber safety is his excellent instincts and quick feet. His anticipation and ball skills will be displayed more at safety than cornerback, especially a center fielder type of safety. I can see the duo of Hall and second-round pick Richie Grant on the backend for Dean Pees in the future, given how complementary their attributes are.
His shortest route to the field will be special teams, where he’s already stated that he’ll be a willing participant in any role the coaches ask. In an interview with Justin Melo, Hall responded to a question about what kind of impact he’d make, “Darren Hall is going to make the impact that he’s destined to make. I’m gonna come in and work my butt off. I’m gonna make sure that I’m doing all of the things that allow me to play at a high level. I can play on special teams. I can play multiple roles in the secondary. Every play that comes my way is going to get my full effort. I’m gonna give it my all every single day.”
I believe he will compete for the starting nickel back position, but if Fabian Moreau fails to grab the starting boundary position opposite AJ Terrell, Hall could have an opening to start there. Moreau wins the starting boundary job in a perfect world, then Hall and Isaiah Oliver compete for the starting nickel position — Richie Grant will be the extra defensive back in big nickel if he doesn’t start.
Hall’s spatial awareness and instinct make him a shoo-in to start at nickel from day one if Oliver’s development in the slot slows. Hall’s rapid diagnostic skills, lightning burst, and quick-footed backpedal all make for a high floor as a professional. He fights throughout the route and remains competitive even if he’s out of position, but he normally does a good job positioning himself to make a play.
Hall is aggressive in the run game, showing the ability and willingness to attack bigger running backs without fear. His best work came in zone coverage, which is why I believe he’s better suited at this point in his career to patrol the slot instead of the boundary. The Falcons may have found a true gem on the backend, and I believe the Falcons have a potential starting-caliber safety and cornerback in Darren Hall.