The Falcons currently sit 2-1 through Week 3 and atop the NFC South. A lot of people inside and outside of the organization are expecting a playoff berth after massive investments into the roster this offseason.
Though there’s a lot of football to be played from now until the end of the season, the folks over at Pro Football Focus can’t help but look toward the offseason. In a new series, PFF looks at teams’ needs and provides one 2024 free agent target and one 2024 draft prospect.
Last time, the Falcons’ need was wide receiver. The prospect was Georgia’s own Ladd McConkey and the free agent was Kendrick Bourne. This time, it is cornerback.
Atlanta’s new-look defense is off to a remarkable start in 2023, with all of their free agent signings from the past offseason looking like hits, namely David Onyemata and Jessie Bates III. Nevertheless, the Detroit Lions could have, and probably should have, scored more than 20 points in Week 3, and the cornerbacks outside of A.J. Terrell were picked on a bit at times.
To be fair, Jeff Okudah was acquired this offseason to start opposite A.J. Terrell but hasn’t yet gotten his first start in Atlanta. He appeared in his first Falcons game against his former team after spending nearly two months recovering from an ankle injury. Hopefully, he won’t be on a snap limit this week against the Jaguars, and he performs better than Tre Flowers has over the last three games.
Prospect: Iowa CB Cooper DeJean
DeJean is a Swiss Army knife defensive back that Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen would love to get his hands on, after years of coveting versatile defensive backs in New Orleans — including Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Bradley Roby, Alontae Taylor and Tyrann Mathieu. DeJean earned an 81.5 coverage grade and an 85.8 run-defense grade in 2022 and has a 75.7 coverage grade through four games in 2023.
Honestly, I don’t know much about Cooper DeJean, but versatility is something the Falcons have prioritized when drafting in the new regime’s tenure. Kalen King from Penn State is someone I have watched who would pair nicely opposite A.J. Terrell in the long term.
Free agent: Tennessee Titans CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
Murphy-Bunting has experience playing out wide and in the slot, adding a versatile piece to the secondary with starting upside. The former second-round pick earned a career-best 80.9 coverage grade in 2022 and parlayed that into a free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans — but just for $3.5 million across one year.
Sean Murphy-Bunting is someone Falcons fans should be familiar with, given his time in Tampa Bay. With the Buccaneers, he had ups and downs but played a lot of different roles in an effective manner for Atlanta’s division rivals. The Falcons’ secondary would be better with Murphy-Bunting in the lineup.