Tim Mazetti

Cornerback Depth For The 2019 Season

67 posts in this topic

https://www.thefalcoholic.com/2019/5/17/18624996/falcons-roster-review-a-post-draft-look-at-cb-desmond-trufant-isaiah-oliver-damontae-kazee

Falcons roster review: A post-draft look at CB

This group is suddenly loaded with intriguing young talent.

By Dave Choate May 17, 2019, 3:00pm EDT

 

Cornerback was a problem spot for the Falcons in 2018. Desmond Trufant had a couple of bad games in an otherwise quality year, Robert Alford was hurt and had perhaps his worst NFL season as a result, Brian Poole was solid but still suffered through some shaky coverage, and the team’s depth was questionable outside of Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who barely got on the field. The late growth of Isaiah Oliver was a rare bright spot, but it was beyond aggravating to see the Falcons trot Alford out week after week in light of what we’ve learned about his injury, especially with Oliver and Wreh-Wilson largely parked.

To their credit, the Falcons have made the position an offseason priority. Their top three looks pretty strong and talented on paper with Kazee porting over from safety, and with two draft selections and the return of Wreh-Wilson, this team could field six interesting corners in 2019. Let’s break the position down further.

Starters

Few positions with genuine talent on this roster is in more flux than cornerback, with only guard being a serious contender as a rival here. The Falcons had an expected top three of Desmond Trufant, Isaiah Oliver, and Damontae Kazee going into free agency and the draft, and that is still the expectation today. It’s just that it’s not the settled matter it might have been before.

Let’s roll on with that assumption, though, because it’s still the likeliest outcome. That brings us first to Desmond Trufant, who is probably the single most divisive player on this roster once you clear out the increasingly silly attacks on Matt Ryan. Trufant is getting paid like a top ten cornerback—his annual average is currently the seventh-highest in the league—and hasn’t quite played at that level over the last 2-3 years. He remains the team’s best cover cornerback, a top ten player in the NFL when it comes to handling deep strikes, and a player who reliably makes plays on the ball. He’s had a bit of a tougher time on short-to-intermediate routes in recent years and is notoriously bad at coming down with the interceptions that find their way into his hands, but he remains a very good player whose limitations are magnified because they don’t concern the thing he does best: Covering receivers. No one should be shocked if the Falcons are looking to move on from him in the next couple of seasons—drafting three cornerbacks in the last two seasons does give one that impression—but he’ll head into the year as the team’s best starter by a wide margin.

The new #2 is Isaiah Oliver, a player I unabashedly love despite an up-and-down rookie season. Oliver isn’t the prototype cornerback for Dan Quinn, per se, but he’s got close to ideal length, a strong athletic profile, the high character makeup DQ covets, and the ability to make plays on the ball. He’s going to be tested early and often in 2019, but he has the skill to thrive as soon as this year in an expanded opportunity. His success—or lack thereof—will be crucial to the unit, but optimism is the only thing I have for that and it’s not super tangible.

Kazee as a cornerback is a little different, because we saw him on the field plenty last year, albeit at safety. From that, we know that Kazee’s physicality compares favorably to Brian Poole, who was brutally effective at dropping receivers and quarterbacks alike as the team’s physical nickel corner. We also know he’s a true ballhawk, having grabbed seven interceptions in 2018 at safety, and that his experience at corner in college should help him make the transition pretty smoothly. Kazee has the upside to be a terrific option here, and his track record in coverage suggests he can probably improve what Poole offered there a year ago.

Overall, this group has a ton of talent and upside but question marks to go with it, largely based on experience (Kazee and Oliver) and recent production (Trufant). I’m bullish on their chances of being above average, at the very least.

Reserves

Things are very interesting here after the draft. The Falcons used a fourth round pick on Kendall Sheffield, a player this team clearly loves despite the fact that he’s a day three pick. Sheffield has length, fantastic wheels, and an aggressive style of play, and he’ll get as much run as he shows he’s capable of handling. He’ll go into the year as the fourth or fifth cornerback, depending on his progress, but if/when his coverage and instincts improve he’s going to push the starters. At the very least, Ben Kotwica should be itching to get his speed on special teams.

Blidi Wreh-Wilson will be fighting to make the roster now with two rookies, but he shouldn’t be counted out of the competition. He’s played well the last two seasons, albeit in very limited opportunities, and figures to slot in as the fourth or fifth corner because of it. If the Falcons only carry five corners, though, Wreh-Wilson’s probably the guy who is gonna lose his gig.

Jordan Miller is the other rookie, and he’s an intriguing player as well. His upside might not be as titanic as Sheffield’s, but he offers quality speed and pretty advanced coverage instincts and acumen for a sixth round rookie. He needs to put injury issues behind him and improve his play strength, as our own Eric Robinson noted, but he has the talent to be a high-end reserve at worst in the NFL if he can get there. For the first year of his career, though, I imagine he’ll be the last man off the bench.

There are other competitors here, but it would not be unreasonable to suggest that none of them are going to make the roster unless the Falcons move one of their current cornerbacks.

Outlook

It’s a refrain you’ll hear over and over again on defense, but it’s worth repeating in every instance: The cornerback group has the talent to be tremendous, but there are valid questions about whether everything will come together the way we want it to.

Trufant is the closest thing to a sure thing at the position, with his coverage skills largely holding up aside from what has become an annual couple of shaky games. Otherwise, this team is going to be heavily relying on young, athletic talent, from the more experienced Oliver and particularly Kazee to the brand new Sheffield and Miller. If they live up to their reputed talent, or even close to it, cornerback might be one of the team’s true defensive strengths. If Oliver and/or Kazee falter, the Falcons at least have interesting options, but it’s really just a question of readiness for a group of potentially gifted young defensive backs.

Me? I’ll go on record and say that I expect Trufant, Oliver and Kazee to all enjoy quality years, with Sheffield and Miller mixing in to get a little experience and prepare to take on larger roles in 2019. I’m probably more bullish about this group than any other on defense, unless you count the suddenly deep defensive tackle group.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Im excited about the potential.

Kazee is a great playmaker. He will play a lot of zone as the NB to accentuate his skillset.

Oliver got beat a few times when he played towards the end if the season. They key points are that several of the catches were just perfect pass and catch. He was in great position most often even though he made some mental mistakes. 

The rookies bring a lot of upside as covered in the article. I dont think you can do a lot better than Blidi as the 4th or 5th guy. He's a high quality reserve. 

Id love to see Trufant create some nore turnovers. Those hands though....sigh. 

Overall with an improved pass rush and depth on the DL. I expect our CBs to look better this season. Especially once our little general (Rico Allen) is out there commanding again. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm excited to see Oliver keep growing and Kazee getting a good number of snaps. Not high on Tru. He's fine, but he's grown comfortable on his side, more fine with limiting YAC versus trying to prevent catches altogether. Hopefully he's got a fire under him this year with Alford gone. His time in Atlanta is ticking if he doesn't round back into form. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I posted the whole article in the Jordan Miller thread, but here’s an excerpt from a pre-draft article on JM.

Based on my game charting, opposing QB’s completed 19/34 passes (56%) for 183 yards with 3 TDs and 2 INTs when Miller was the closest defender this past season. That’s good for a college passer rating of 118.5 (for context, Jake Browning’s passer rating was 142.5).

However, most of those completions were quick throws when Miller was playing in off coverage. Opponents went 14/16 for 91 yards on throws fewer than 10 yards downfield. If you want to attack Jordan Miller you better do it on quick throws behind the line of scrimmage or quick stick routes. Because taking shots against him will not turn out in your favor.

Opposing QB’s were just 2/11 on throws 15+ yards downfield while Miller had a pair of interceptions and 5 pass breakups. He did give up one deep touchdown this year against Colorado but otherwise was nearly flawless on deep throws. Miller’s at his best when able to mirror a receiver working down the sideline and put himself in a position to use his height/length to get his arms between the ball and the receiver.

NFL Draft Projection

In the NFL, Miller will be best served going to a team that uses him in a cover 3 type alignment where he doesn’t have to worry as much about tracking a receiver across the middle of the field. It rarely seems to work out like this but if the Seahawks wait until the 5th/6th round to take a corner then Miller seems like the kind of late round press corner they love to draft and develop.

The current consensus is that Day 3 is when Miller can expect to hear his name called anywhere between the late 4th to 6th round. The 2017 injury was skeletal rather than soft tissue which makes it less likely to be a recurring problem but some teams may take him off of their board when combining it with the few games missed in 2018 depending on the results of Miller’s physical. No team can take Miller and expect him to be an elite lockdown “shadow your best receiver everywhere” type of corner but he has enough strengths that a smart team who puts him in the right position to succeed has a good chance of getting a multi-year starter and a steal late in the draft.

 
Osiruz, Tim Mazetti and gazoo like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CB is our weakest position by far.  Tru is a shell and we have no idea how Oliver will do in year 2 and will surely have growing pains as the #2 cb.  Plus those rookies and we got a lot of young guys with very little experience but they do have potential.  Luckily we are pretty loaded at the safety positions and hopefully they help provide some extra help.  

GeorgiaBoyz and Tim Mazetti like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So Oliver is coming in similar to how Jalen Collins came in.

I think an added question/unknown is how much of a role did Marquand play in Jalen Collins filling in pretty well for an injured Trufant very competent football in 2016? And how much of that will be missed.

gazoo and Osiruz like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/17/2019 at 5:20 PM, droopy1592 said:

Ugh, Trufant is a shadow of his former self. Random receivers give him fits now. Run defense? What’s that? He’s not worth the money he makes. 

Trufant can definitely play better but a "shadow".....hardly. Still rarely misses tackles. Still sticky in coverage. Still doesnt give up but a few big plays a year. 

PFF had him as one of the top tacklers and deep coverage guys in the the NFL at CB. 

He needs to hold on to more footballs and he needs to play more man which he is best at. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/18/2019 at 2:00 AM, ATLFalcons11 said:

So Oliver is coming in similar to how Jalen Collins came in.

I think an added question/unknown is how much of a role did Marquand play in Jalen Collins filling in pretty well for an injured Trufant very competent football in 2016? And how much of that will be missed.

We also had walk on undrafted rookie FA Brian Poole come out of nowhere in 2016 and play great, along with Collins once Trufant went down. We didn’t miss a beat.

If it is one thing this scouting department seems to know well it’s defensive backs.  I think your comparison from Collins stepping up year two to where Oliver is is quite apropos

 

 

ATLFalcons11 and Cole World like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/17/2019 at 4:39 PM, Tim Mazetti said:

 

Me? I’ll go on record and say that I expect Trufant, Oliver and Kazee to all enjoy quality years, with Sheffield and Miller mixing in to get a little experience and prepare to take on larger roles in 2019. I’m probably more bullish about this group than any other on defense, unless you count the suddenly deep defensive tackle group.

Ah yes......the suddenly deep defensive tackle group! We have so many here that think we did nothing to help the defense or defensive line.

Dan Quinn states he was really excited about the defensive tackle group as a whole. Aside from the obvious Grady Jarrett, DQ specifically mentioned Jack Crawford , Davison, Hageman and Senat as a group he is really excited about going into 2019.

Tim Mazetti and egoprime II like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/17/2019 at 5:20 PM, droopy1592 said:

Ugh, Trufant is a shadow of his former self. Random receivers give him fits now. Run defense? What’s that? He’s not worth the money he makes. 

This ..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If nothing else, we have speed.  

Oliver “could” be excellent, but he shows last year that he needs some work.  Hopefully he will get comfortable and let his athletics show up.  

Kazee is our our next pro bowler.   If Oliver plays well, kazee could replace Tru next year.   If Oliver doesn’t, kazee May be our #2

 

PokerSteve likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, gazoo said:

Ah yes......the suddenly deep defensive tackle group! We have so many here that think we did nothing to help the defense or defensive line.

Dan Quinn states he was really excited about the defensive tackle group as a whole. Aside from the obvious Grady Jarrett, DQ specifically mentioned Jack Crawford , Davison, Hageman and Senat as a group he is really excited about going into 2019.

Pressure the QB and have a solid DL, and your CBs don't have to be superstars. 

gazoo likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Stryka said:

Trufant can definitely play better but a "shadow".....hardly. Still rarely misses tackles. Still sticky in coverage. Still doesnt give up but a few big plays a year. 

PFF had him as one of the top tacklers and deep coverage guys in the the NFL at CB. 

He needs to hold on to more footballs and he needs to play more man which he is best at. 

I’ll let the eye test prevail. Half the time he doesn’t even attempt tackles, he tries to corral the player like a cow, waiting for others to do the work. He’s given up a lot of underneath stuff too, way more now than before the injury. They used to never throw to his side... they know he’s going to drop the int so they don’t mind testing him. He’s worth half of what he’s paid. Top tacklers? LoL you’re not watching what I’m watching. Trufant avoids contact. 

PokerSteve likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, RichardCNile said:

If nothing else, we have speed.  

Oliver “could” be excellent, but he shows last year that he needs some work.  Hopefully he will get comfortable and let his athletics show up.  

Kazee is our our next pro bowler.   If Oliver plays well, kazee could replace Tru next year.   If Oliver doesn’t, kazee May be our #2

 

I doubt it. He doesn’t fit Quinn mold to play on the outside.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/17/2019 at 5:20 PM, droopy1592 said:

Ugh, Trufant is a shadow of his former self. Random receivers give him fits now. Run defense? What’s that? He’s not worth the money he makes. 

Common TAFT false narrative. 

Fact is, Trufant rarely gets beat deep going against other team’s top receivers.

Cole World and Yo_Lover like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, droopy1592 said:

I’ll let the eye test prevail. Half the time he doesn’t even attempt tackles, he tries to corral the player like a cow, waiting for others to do the work. He’s given up a lot of underneath stuff too, way more now than before the injury. They used to never throw to his side... they know he’s going to drop the int so they don’t mind testing him. He’s worth half of what he’s paid. Top tacklers? LoL you’re not watching what I’m watching. Trufant avoids contact. 

The eye test isnt a good barometer to facts or truth. Its a part of the process of evaluating. 

I worked in customer service for many years. Its very easy to be conditioned into thinking a product, service or person is bad because our society aims predominantly at negative news. 

You are recalling the Chubb TD in which he was cutting off the sideline to force him back inside. Nevermind several others missed tackles including LBs and safeties right up the middle. 

Trufant has always been a good tackler. Show me more than a couple missed tackles. He isnt exploding into ball carriers but he gets guys down on the ground. The short stuff has also been a product of play calling. Manuel was a better safe than sorry guy. 

Tru is a good CB....probably not worth what he is getting paid but is worth way more than half of it. I mean every year he is rated as an average to above average CB in almost every metric. I agree wr need more from him though. He isnt hardly as soft or bad as yal suggest though.

Cole World and Vandy like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, RichardCNile said:

If nothing else, we have speed.  

Oliver “could” be excellent, but he shows last year that he needs some work.  Hopefully he will get comfortable and let his athletics show up.  

Kazee is our our next pro bowler.   If Oliver plays well, kazee could replace Tru next year.   If Oliver doesn’t, kazee May be our #2

 

This is so bad... Of course the rookie needs work. 

And Kazee isn't an outside corner. He would never replace Trufant. Sheesh...

Vandy, Shelley#37 and Cole World like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Stryka said:

The eye test isnt a good barometer to facts or truth. Its a part of the process of evaluating. 

I worked in customer service for many years. Its very easy to be conditioned into thinking a product, service or person is bad because our society aims predominantly at negative news. 

You are recalling the Chubb TD in which he was cutting off the sideline to force him back inside. Nevermind several others missed tackles including LBs and safeties right up the middle. 

Trufant has always been a good tackler. Show me more than a couple missed tackles. He isnt exploding into ball carriers but he gets guys down on the ground. The short stuff has also been a product of play calling. Manuel was a better safe than sorry guy. 

Tru is a good CB....probably not worth what he is getting paid but is worth way more than half of it. I mean every year he is rated as an average to above average CB in almost every metric. I agree wr need more from him though. He isnt hardly as soft or bad as yal suggest though.

I can’t show you more than a few missed tackles because he doesn’t try to tackle. It’s obvious every time the runner comes in his direction. Side skips and avoiding contact and such. It’s so obvious, it’s not even worth debating. If Trufant was pulling a Sanders and was a true lockdown but avoided contact, he’d be worth the money. He’s not good at either right now. He wasn’t even in PFFs top 25 corners. 

Edited by droopy1592
PokerSteve likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Vandy said:

Common TAFT false narrative. 

Fact is, Trufant rarely gets beat deep going against other team’s top receivers.

Common obvious observation when watching film. Who said anything about being beat deep? Who cares when you’re giving up everything underneath, 10 yards off on a 3rd and 7 and avoiding contact? He’s not trash but he’s not what he used to be. Since that pec injury he’s been taken advantage of more often than before. 

PokerSteve likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, droopy1592 said:

Common obvious observation when watching film. Who said anything about being beat deep? Who cares when you’re giving up everything underneath, 10 yards off on a 3rd and 7 and avoiding contact? He’s not trash but he’s not what he used to be. Since that pec injury he’s been taken advantage of more often than before. 

I said it, because not getting beat deep is kinda/sorta an important aspect of playing cornerback. Especially on a team where both starting safeties were out for year.

SMH, you guys don’t even watch film if this is the best take you can come up with.  Either that, or you don’t know what the **** you’re watching. 

Stryka likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now