Falcons: Mid-to-late round cornerbacks Terry Fontenot should target in NFL Draft

Adebo

Terry Fontenot has preached the Falcons must hit on the later-round draft picks and the lower-priced free agents to be competitive in 2021.

“We’re going to have to find players because you can’t just build your roster with overpaid players in free agency or top draft picks. We have to really dig and find value in free agency,” Fontenot said via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s working with the coaches and finding exactly what they need and going and finding the players that they need. That’s throughout the entire draft, and that’s in undrafted free agency. So, we have to be scouts and go find good players that can really fit the make-up and profile that we are looking for.”

This continues our series of mid-to-late round draft prospects at positions of need for the Falcons. If you missed any of the previous parts of this series, please click the links below.

Tyson Campbell

Eric Stokes will likely be picked at the very beginning of Day 2. That’s a little rich for my taste. The Falcons grabbing Tyson Campbell at the end of Day 2 is better value in my opinion. The former Georgia Bulldog has NFL size and is an athletic cornerback, as evidenced by his agility and short-are quickness — the sub 4.4 40 is just a cherry on top.

Those in the UGA program have said his development mentally is just as impressive as his physical refinement; he’s learned to engage receivers at the line of scrimmage better as well as in transition, fluidly flipping his hips. Campbell would thrive in a press-man defense with zone trickled in as, he played both with the Bulldogs. Though he does struggle sometimes playing the ball, he’s a Day 2 prospect for a reason.

Kelvin Joseph

Like Campbell, Kelvin Joseph has good size and displayed comfort playing in both press-man and off-man/zone coverage — appearing ultra-comfortable in deep coverage due to trusting his technique and instincts instead of grabbing. Transfering nowadays isn’t even flinched at by evaluators; Joseph signed with hometown LSU out of high school in 2018. After playing in five games as a true freshman with LSU, Joseph transferred to Kentucky.

The Tigers were bringing in five-star freshman Derek Stingley in 2019, who was always going to play as a true freshman — he’s that good, a lock for the top-five in the 2022 NFL draft. After sitting out the 2019 season due to transfer rules, Joseph played in nine games for Kentucky, recording four interceptions, including a pick-six, along with 25 tackles. His ability in cover 3 makes him an ideal scheme fit for Dean Pees’ scheme too.

Asante Samuel Jr.

This makes sense as the Falcons have already met with him virtually. Even more so, Samuel Jr. fits Dean Pees’ system. He is a quick, agile, and versatile cover corner prospect. The former Seminole typically aligned as an outside cornerback in Florida State’s defense, playing on both the left and right boundaries, but he has lined up in the slot as well. Pees could move him wherever he is needed most.

Samuel Jr. thrives in man or zone coverage and can use his quickness and agility to stay with receivers in and out of breaks. He has good awareness and discipline in zone coverage, doing a quality job of reading the quarterbacks’ eyes to lead him to the ball. Samuel’s quickness and short-area explosiveness allow him to close passing windows in a hurry. His tenacity is apparent in his coverage as he hand-checks the receiver throughout the whole route. His willingness in the run game is even more impressive. This video of Samuel Jr. chopping down 245-pound AJ Dillion — who will now be the defacto thunder to Aaron Jones’ lightning — shows exactly the type of player he is.

Paulson Adebo

Adebo isn’t going to be breaking any records with his 40 time or broad jump, but he has great functional athleticism for the position. His most desirable attributes have to be his man-coverage ability, specifically press-man, and his football IQ. As a Cardinal, Adebo almost exclusively pressed receivers when playing man, which is expected with his frame. But he understands spacing and does a fine job reading opposing quarterback’s eyes while being aware of receivers entering and exiting his zone. In just two years at Standford, he had 27 pass breakups and eight interceptions. To put that in perspective, the combination of Blidi Wreh-Wilson, AJ Terrell, Isaiah Oliver, Kendall Sheffield, and Darqueze Dennard had a combined 25 passes defended and five picks this last year.

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