The Falcons have had a surprising amount of churn at the cornerback position over the last couple of seasons. The team went into Super Bowl 51 (ugh) (blergh) with Robert Alford, Jalen Collins, Brian Poole, C.J. Goodwin, and Deji Olatoye all playing roles against the Patriots. Heading into 2018, only Alford, Poole, and of course Desmond Trufant are still here, with Collins hitting the curb thanks to suspensions and Goodwin and Olatoye being cut primarily for performance or lack thereof.
That leaves Atlanta a little short at the position heading into next season. They’re set at their top two spots with Tru and Alford, and Poole figures to at least compete once again for the nickel job he’s held each of the last two seasons. After that, though, their current options are mostly former undrafted free agents and converted wide receiver types.
That’s what makes Blidi Wreh-Wilson feel like such a slam dunk re-signing for Atlanta. The UConn product played very well in limited looks in 2017, and with the Falcons facing some depth issues, he’s an obvious (and likely) cheap re-sign candidate. But will it happen?
Here’s the case for and against.
Simply put, Wreh-Wilson was the team’s fourth best cornerback in 2017. During his mid-to-late season run, he was surprisingly effective in coverage, displaying the athleticism that always made him intriguing and improved instincts in Dan Quinn and Marquand Manuel’s defense. Pair that with fine tackling and a little special teams value and you have a player who is, at worst, a decent fourth cornerback.
Given the fact that he didn’t get enough playing time or play at quite a high-enough level to draw huge free agency interest, Wreh-Wilson should also come relatively cheap. With the team’s cap crunch both now and potentially in the future, getting players who are reasonably young, reasonably talented, and reasonably cheap to fill out your depth chart is going to be critically important for a while now. Wreh-Wilson really does fit the bill.
If the team had more draft picks, I’d argue that they could replace Wreh-Wilson fairly easily with a couple of selections at the cornerback. The team already seems likely to target a long-term starting candidate who might be able to battle with Brian Poole for the nickel gig, but they prefer to have five cornerbacks on the roster, and a late round corner or even an undrafted free agent could theoretically take over for Wreh-Wilson.
Even without the draft piece, it’s pretty easy to argue that you can replace Wreh-Wilson without breaking a huge sweat, especially because last year’s quality performances were a bit of a surprise. He doesn’t have the track record to necessarily suggest he’ll be able to play that well again, bluntly.
The Verdict: Yes
For near or at the veteran minimum, Wreh-Wilson gives the team a player with starting experience who can step in when needed and provides depth at a position currently lacking it. That’s just a good deal, and regardless of the team’s plans in the NFL Draft at cornerback, I anticipate Wreh-Wilson will be back as the fourth or fifth cornerback on the depth chart.