The Falcons improved the roster dramatically this offseason, but only a single player was mentioned in ESPN’s list of the Top 100 players entering 2023. The list is based on a projection for the upcoming season and not the 2022 campaign. Atlanta’s only player was A.J. Terrell, who came in ranked 83rd overall after debuting on the list last year at 46th.
Terrell has been the Falcons’ top corner for years now and remains one of the league’s top defensive backs. He took a little dip last season, in part because he played a little more man coverage than he had in the past, combined with Atlanta’s continued pass-rushing struggles. — Michael Rothstein
Signature stat: Terrell allowed the lowest completion percentage (49%) among defensive backs over the past two seasons, according to NFL Next Gen Stats (minimum 100 targets).
What they are saying: “He’s an elite player. His physicality, speed, his hips. As a DB, you got to have good hips, and A.J. has great hips. He’s able to get out of breaks and impact the quarterback with throws and just crazy coverage, man. He’s different.” — Falcons cornerback Dee Alford
2023 projection: 70 tackles, 2 INTs
It’s not surprising that the Falcons’ corner fell in these rankings from a year ago. He had one of the best seasons in recent memory across 2021 and didn’t quite follow it up with what many expected. His production and impact fell in 2022 from his 2021 campaign, which I predicted before last season.
His 2021 season was so impressive that very few could’ve produced at that same level. In that same breath, his 2022 effort was extreme regression; now, I expect positive regression in 2023. The Falcons defense featured a bunch of nobodies last year, with one of the worst pass rushes in the league, putting extra strain on the secondary and Terrell.
The defense is much improved which will benefit Terrell, especially considering the most notable additions addressed the pass rush along with a quarterback on the backend in Jessie Bates III. Buy A.J. Terrell stock while it’s still low because he’ll be higher on this list next year.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire