Isaiah Oliver’s tenure in Atlanta has been full of ups and downs, but he performed well in limited action last season. The Falcons saw enough to bring him back; according to FOX’s Mike Garafolo, Oliver is returning in 2022 on a one-year deal.
The #Falcons are bringing back CB Isaiah Oliver on a one-year deal, sources say. Former second-round pick went down with a knee injury in October. Back in Atlanta for 2022.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 18, 2022
In 16 games two years ago, Oliver recorded 70 tackles, four tackles for loss, six passes defended, one sack, and one forced fumble. The new regime noticed the improved level of play as well. Jon Hoke, the Falcons’ secondary coach, said he was impressed with Oliver’s production once he made the position switch—speaking to the kind of player he could be.
Many fans were hesitant to buy into the notion that he could be a serviceable player in this system as a slot corner, but the tide has begun to turn. Oliver is more than a serviceable player in the slot under Dean Pees, but this isn’t anything new.
Jeff Ulbrich, the de facto defensive coordinator in 2020, certainly had a large part in kicking Oliver to the slot, saying this about the position change: “[Oliver]’s proven to be a very good tackler. He’s got the ability to support the box. Play almost safety-like roles at times. He’s got length, the size, willingness and tackling ability, all of that.”
I said back in February of 2021 that a permanent move for Oliver to a safety-like role in the slot could prolong his career in Atlanta. The word “safety” has a negative connotation to it, but the reality is that Oliver is a nickel back through and through, which plays like both a safety and a cornerback. Slot or nickel backs are usually tasked with supporting the run and blitzing more than boundary corners due to their proximity to the ball, which is exactly where Oliver showed life in the latter half of 2020.
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