Report: Saints were high on Falcons’ A.J. Terrell before the draft

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Many draft “experts” — even the well-respected Mel Kiper — have gone out of their way to slam the Falcons’ first-round selection of A.J. Terrell, stating Atlanta clearly reached for a player they could have picked in the second-round in order to fill a need. But while Kiper might not be as high on Terrell as others, several teams viewed the Clemson cornerback as a first-round talent, including the Falcons biggest rival, the New Orleans Saints.

Last Friday, Jeff Duncan — a writer for The Athletic New Orleans — reported that Sean Payton mentioned A.J. Terrell as one of the players they were looking to trade up for in Round 1 of the draft:

Here’s Payton’s exact quote, via USA Today’s Saints Wire:

“Yeah, this draft unfolded exactly how we thought it would in front of us. Look, we paid attention to the defensive tackle from South Carolina. He fell a little bit and then was picked up by San Francisco. The corner Atlanta picked up, those were two players that began to fall below their grade,” Payton said.

Every analyst is entitled to their own opinion; however, Kiper’s feeling that the Falcons could have selected Terrell much later in the draft is a fallacy. Had Atlanta decided to move back a few picks and roll the dice in hopes that he would fall to them, it’s likely a team like the Raiders or the Saints would have taken advantage. At the end of the day, the Falcons got their guy, and it came at the expense of New Orleans, which should make everybody in Atlanta feel a bit better about this selection.

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