If the Falcons are going to go from back-to-back 7-9 seasons to Super Bowl contenders, their draft class will have to be incredibly impactful. So far in training camp, it looks like they are on the right track.
A.J. Terrell, Atlanta’s first-round selection, is poised to be starting on the outside in Week 1, across from either Isaiah Oliver or Kendall Sheffield. Terrell has consistently received first-team reps in practice and in the Falcons’ two scrimmages. His defense on Julio Jones has been commendable, and the seven-time Pro-Bowler has been impressed with the rookie while enjoying the competition. Dan Quinn also said he’s been very pleased with Terrell’s progression this offseason.
Dan Quinn says Julio Jones has told him he's seeing good things from A.J. Terrell and that the two of them have a great back and forth while competing on the field. Quinn has been very pleased with what he's seen from Terrell.
— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) August 23, 2020
There were many critics when the Falcons selected Terrell 16th overall, saying Thomas Dimitroff reached for a need. However, all signs are pointing to him starting in Week 1, which is all you can ask for at this point. If he thrives in his first season, the Falcons cornerback group should be in great shape, especially after the addition of Darqueze Dennard.
Terrell’s not the only rookie turning heads, though. According to ESPN’s Vaughn Mcclure, third-round pick, Matt Hennessy, looks to be in the lead for the starting left guard job, which might be why the team had no problem releasing Jamon Brown, despite his dead cap hit of over $6.5 million.
Brown appeared in 10 games with nine starts at guard for Atlanta in 2019. Falcons starting guards looked to be Chris Lindstrom (right), rookie Matt Hennessey (left). Brown would have been a depth guy but no longer.
— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) August 24, 2020
That’s a pretty exceptional development, considering the rookies have been at a substantial disadvantage with a shortened offseason and no preseason. The fact that the Falcons are so confident in Hennessy’s abilities this early suggests he could turn out to be a slam dunk selection in the middle of the draft. It’s also fantastic news for the offense, who are only a piece or two away from returning to juggernaut status.
Lastly, Mykal Walker is seeing first-team reps as well at linebacker. The Falcons will feature Deion Jones and Foyesade Oluokun primarily, but it looks like Walker is in the lead for the role as the team’s third linebacker, which means he will see the field quite a bit.
Falcons scrimmage wrapped up. Some notes:
Mykal Walker got a lot of first team reps today. Deion Jones played here and there, so likely just a load management thing.
Impressed with Chris Rowland as a returner so far.
Keanu Neal plays the run really well.
— Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) August 24, 2020
Walker has many similar traits to De’Vondre Campbell, who departed this past offseason, signing a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. I still fully expect Jones and Oluokun to see the field the most, but the Falcons depth at linebacker looked thin heading into 2020. With Walker shining in training camp, Dan Quinn and Raheem Morris should feel exponentially more comfortable with their current group at the second level.