The Falcons may be focused on the trenches, per basically every rumor and signing we’ve seen thus far, but they still love defensive backs. Marquand Manuel is a former defensive back, after all, and the Falcons lean heavily on nickel looks on their defense. You need quality cornerbacks and safeties to make that work.
That’s why it’s interesting, as a source recently told The Falcoholic, that the Falcons worked out two Colorado defensive backs on Tuesday who have the length and athleticism they prize. That would be cornerback Isaiah Oliver, an expected first or second round pick, and safety Afolabi Laguda, an expected late round selection.
Per our source, Laguda particularly impressed the assembled Falcons brass, which included Dan Quinn, Thomas Dimitroff, and Marquand Manuel. Per most draft analysts, he’s expected to go late in the draft or join a team as a priority free agent, but his combination of size, speed, and special teams ability makes him seem like a good speculative add for the Falcons in particular. He’d likely replace Sharrod Neasman as the team’s fourth safety if they do get him, and there’s some upside here that could make him an interesting player down the line.
Oliver won’t be a late round steal. He has size, speed, and coverage instincts that should make him one of the first corners off the board in April, and it’s easy to understand why the Falcons would be interested in him. That said, his footwork and coverage are said to need some work, and the Falcons are probably not going to invest a first or second round pick at cornerback when the defensive line needs their urgent attention. He’s a name to keep in mind, though, if the Falcons do a good job of addressing those needs in the trenches in the days and weeks ahead.
Honestly, both of these players are worth remembering, and I wouldn’t be stunned to see Laguda join the Falcons come April as they continue to search for young, high-upside defensive backs who fit the prototype they’re looking for.