The Falcons may have – once again – wholly ignored their lifeless defensive line through the draft. But as always, Dan Quinn made sure he snagged a cornerback taking two of them – Kendall Sheffield in the fourth round and Jordan Miller in the fifth. On the picks, Quinn said he expects both players to come in and contribute right away. They will have the opportunity, with only Desmond Trufant, Isaiah Oliver, and Damontae Kazee on the current roster competing for the starting spots, but which one should Falcons’ fans be the most juiced up for?
Sheffield was a guy the Falcons had their eyes on from the get-go, and they moved up to take the Ohio State product in the fourth round with the 111th pick. The 5’11”, 193-pound corner had a weird collegiate career. He initially committed to Alabama and went there as a freshman before transferring. After a year in JUCO, Sheffield was back on the big stage with the Buckeyes in Colombus.
The wrap with Sheffield isn’t too challenging to figure out. His size, speed, and physical attributes are what you see in the best NFL cornerbacks. He’s nearly six feet tall and 200 pounds with long arms to match up with bigger-bodied receivers at the line of scrimmage, but his most notable attribute is his speed. Sheffield didn’t get to finish his NFL Combine because of a torn pectoral muscle he suffered while doing the bench press. However, he has legitimate 4.3 speed, was a track star in high school and broke the Ohio State record with a 6.60 60-yard dash.
The problem with Sheffield is the flaws in his game are just as evident. His technique is all over the place. Sometimes he looks like an NFL caliber talent; sometimes it appears as if he has no idea what is going on. The ball skills are way behind the top corners that were taken in this year’s draft. Even with his speed, he can get beat deep due to poor technique. His feet allow him to recover, but he’s never able to turn and find the ball. Reminds me of a former Falcons cornerback who just found a new home in Arizona. Although, Sheffield has a slightly larger frame than Alford.
The goal here is simple: imagine Sheffield as a ball of elite clay, but it’s going to take a lot of molding from Dan Quinn and this staff for that clay to look like anything worth buying. Nonetheless, Sheffield could find himself playing as a rookie. Falcons’ fans should be well aware by now that if you’re fast and physical, especially at the corner position, you’re not too far away from being on the field under Dan Quinn. If Sheffield’s mechanics begin to catch up with his body, nothing is preventing him from being regarded as the best corner to come out of this draft.
Miller came into college as a lesser known three-star product out of San Diego. He committed to the University of Washington and was a four-year contributor for the Huskies, starting as both a junior and senior. Like Sheffield, and most fifth-round selections, Miller is going to be a project, but he does possess physical traits that cannot be easily replicated.
The Former Husky is an inch over six feet with long arms and big hands, making him an ideal fit for Dan Quinn’s press-happy scheme. Miller excelled in such situations in college, where he could utilize his length at the line of scrimmage to make things uncomfortable for receivers.
His most challenging hurdle at the next level will be getting stronger. Despite being 6’1″, Miller weighs 180 pounds soaking wet. As a result, he only recorded six reps of 225 on the bench press at the Combine. That’s not going to play in the NFL.
With that said, considering the advantages he will have available to him with the Falcons, I don’t see any reason why he would have problems putting on weight and adding muscle. It should be an open and closed case in that regard. If he puts in the work, he will be strong enough to compete. Another concern will be his speed. Miller barely ran a sub-4.5 at the Combine; which could become even slower as he adds weight.
The technique, balls skills, and fit are all there for Jordan Miller to become a contributing piece to this defense rather quickly. I actually think he’s more NFL-ready today than Sheffield is, as long as he’s not asked to make a one-on-one tackle in open space. The Falcons will be working all summer trying to get him bulked up in case they need him on the field as a rookie.