Final member of Falcons 2018 draft class parts ways in free agency

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Isaiah Oliver, the final member of the Falcons 2018 draft class, will not be playing in Atlanta next year. According to Mike Garafolo, the former second-round pick will head out west to join the 49ers.

After spending part of the year recovering from an ACL injury, he rounded into form toward the end of the season. He logged one sack, one interception, seven passes defended, 36 tackles, and three for loss. His best performance came in a Week 17 victory over the Cardinals in which he posted nine tackles, two passes defended, and a sack.

Isaiah Oliver struggled to begin his Falcons career but found a home in the slot. His skill set dictated that from the jump, but he didn’t get bumped inside until Dan Quinn was fired. I assume that’s the role he’ll play in San Francisco.

Just my opinion, but I feel like the Falcons could’ve had him back if they wanted. New defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen was the only thing standing in the way of that. Dean Pees would’ve advocated for Oliver returning, but the new staff might not have been so inclined.

The club still needs a starting-caliber defender to roam the slot this year. Nielsen could prefer a big nickel look, meaning three safeties on the field instead of three cornerbacks.

There are potential free agent options like Chauncy Gardner-Johnson, who is an elite player and has familiarity with Terry Fontenot and Atlanta’s coordinator, but won’t be cheap. There is also the possibility the Falcons fill the void in the draft. Brian Branch is an enticing prospect and would slot in perfectly. 

If it doesn’t matter if it’s a safety or corner, Bryce Callahan is an available free agent and would be an excellent addition. Clark Phillips III out of Utah is an option too. Regardless, expect the Falcons to bring in a nickel defender.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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