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Damontae Kazee will have the opportunity to earn snaps at nickel cornerback

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Things are about to get interesting at cornerback.

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Damontae Kazee is an intriguing player. He came into the NFL as a potential cornerback or safety, or perhaps a hybrid of both, and he enjoyed a distinguished college career. We saw enough from him in his limited snaps at safety a year ago to think he might someday be a quality starter in this league.

That day doesn’t appear as imminent as it once did, with the team on the cusp of giving Ricardo Allen a new contract and Keanu Neal locked in at strong safety. His only clear path to playing time is either through injury, or at the cornerback position. It appears that’s where he’ll get some run this summer.

Brian Poole has been a hard hitter, stellar blitzer, and general pleasant surprise since taking over the nickel cornerback duties as a rookie undrafted free agent in 2016, but he wasn’t quite stellar in coverage in 2018. It appears the Falcons will give him competition, and that competition may come in the form of Kazee.

Yes, I know this is old news, but I think it’s worth reviewing with free agency and the draft looming.

The Falcons could absolutely draft a cornerback in April, and that would presumably make this discussion largely moot. But Kazee certainly is talented enough to warrant a look at nickel cornerback, as it’s a way to get him into the lineup. There may be situations where Kazee’s coverage skills see him on the field ahead of Poole, and otherwise, he’s a very capable backup safety. There’s little downside to giving him some time at the nickel, even if he can’t unseat Poole.

After a strong rookie showing, though, it’s clear that the Falcons are keen to find ways to get Kazee more involved. If he shows he can play at a high level at both cornerback and safety, it’ll only increase his value to this football team. If the Falcons think he can thrive in that role, they’ll probably make cornerback a lack round draft choice.