Going with the best player available approach is usually the wisest way to go about the NFL Draft, but with the Falcons having limited cap space and a dire need at pass rusher, it is almost inevitable they go that route in the first round. The good news is they pulled off highway robbery acquiring the Patriots’ second-round pick for Mohamed Sanu, so they will have the opportunity to bring in two second-rounders in this year’s draft class. I went over the Falcons’ cornerbacks options in free agency last week. While Desmond Trufant is a consistent option, and Isaiah Oliver, Kendall Sheffield, and Blidi Wreh-Wilson have shown promise, I still believe the best way to fortify this group is by bringing in a free agent AND draft a corner relatively early. The second round may be the best opportunity to do so, as there are a couple of players who project to go off the board in that territory that could be great additions to the Falcons’ secondary.
A.J. Terrell, Clemson
A local kid from Atlanta, A.J. Terrell was put on the map after he returned a Tua Tagovailoa touchdown to the endzone in the 2019 CFP National Championship. Clemson’s defensive line is usually the topic of discussion on that side of the ball, but Terrell has played an enormous part in the Tigers’ success over the last two seasons. Terrell displays incredible athleticism and elite ability in man-to-man. He plays very tight in coverage, showing great flexibility and smooth running ability, though he can get a bit handsy at times.
The biggest thing he will have to work on in the NFL is perfecting his tackling, but there are few questions about his coverage ability, and he has proven to be a versatile piece in college. Terrell had a bad showing guarding Ja’Marr Chase in the National Championship game, which may have killed his stock a bit, but he has first-round talent with a great frame at 6’1″. He should be a starting cornerback in the NFL, and if he can add a bit more weight, he should be able to hold his own against the bigger-bodied receivers in the game.
Bryce Hall, Virginia
Two ACC corners? Yep. The similarities don’t end there either. Hall is another tall corner listed at 6’1″ as well. Though he was not available to help his Cavaliers on their biggest stage against Clemson, Bryce Hall made a big-time name for himself in 2019. While Bryce Perkins and Virginia’s offense was the talking point of a breakout Virginia team, Hall has the brightest NFL future of any player on the roster. He is incredible on the ball, leading college with 21 pass breakups in 2018, his last full season played. This is largely in part due to his length.
Hall plays with a ton of physicality, and draft evaluators seem to be underrating his quickness. He’s a perfect fit and future starter for a team running a Cover 3 scheme, which the Falcons do. Hall is also a super underrated tackler who can set the edge and help stop the running back when called upon. He’s a high character guy that the coaches loved at UVA and can match up against opposing tight ends as well as big-bodied receivers due to his size. It will be interesting to see how much, if at all, Hall is able to participate in team workouts after his season was cut short by ankle surgery. It has already been revealed he will not be able to participate in individual drills at the NFL Combine, so his stock is very much volatile as we speak.
“I think he would be a huge asset. He should fit the defensive scheme too.”
“You see him as a top 10 pick this year if he does not get hurt.”
“He’s tall, he’s long, he always has good body position and he’s a huge student of the game. He loves the technical side of football probably more than anyone I have been around.”
“If you want a guy who can shut down the number one receiver, then he is the guy who will give you the best chance with his skillset.”
See it for yourself. Here’s the tape on Hall: