Falcons 2020 Year End Review: Cornerbacks

Jan 3, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) runs with the ball as Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell (24) attempted to defend during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2020, from start to finish, wasn’t the year any of us wanted. In purely NFL terms, the Atlanta Falcons had as poor a year as they’ve had in recent history. The players fell flat on their face immediately after leaving the starting gate, the long time General Manager and Head Coach duo were unceremoniously moved on mid-season, and the team ended the season with their highest draft pick since 2008. It was a mess.

With the season over, it’s time to dissect that mess. As we face an uncertain new future, let’s take one last look back at the season, so see if there’s anything positive we can take into the new regime. So, join me as we sift through the awful to, hopefully, find little nuggets of good.

A.J. Terrell – C+
Isaiah Oliver – D
Darqueze Dennard – C-
Blidi Wreh-Wilson – D

Kendall Sheffield – D-

A rough year for a trouble position for the Falcons, though not one without a handful of bright spots. A.J. Terrell may not have had the pure numbers to back it up, but he enjoyed a genuinely good rookie season in 2020. Just the one interception from him, but he successfully defended 7 passes, forced 3 fumbles, and was largely holding his own against some of the league’s top receivers. An encouraging rookie season from a player capable of being a very good player.

2020 felt like a make or break year for Isaiah Oliver, and the early blows of the season suggested he would fall to the latter option. After seeing his snap share decrease, and his role change accordingly, he began to flourish as an open field tackler, even forcing a fumble. He’s under contract in 2021, and it’ll be interesting to see if the new coaching staff believe he can still carve a role in this league.

Darqueze Dennard and Blidi Wreh-Wilson were the older heads in the cornerback room, and looked head and shoulders above the young guns at times. One recalls the early season defeat to the Bears, where both came away with an interception each. Of the two, Dennard seemed the more comfortable, despite his season being hindered by a trip to IR. Blidi Wreh-Wilson led the team in interceptions, though was burned on more than one occasion. It remains to be seen whether either will return in 2021.

Kendall Sheffield seemed poised to breakout in 2020, but just couldn’t get going. He had a very poor 40.3 PFF grade for the season, and generally struggled all season long. You can point to the time missed at the start of the year as to what hindered his development, but it’s disappointing to see he couldn’t make the next step. 

Featured Image Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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