Well, the Atlanta Falcons have thrown yet another interesting wrench into the draft assumption machine.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that Louisville CB Jaire Alexander had a private workout with the Falcons last weekend, with Dan Quinn, Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli in attendance.
Ledbetter mentions in the article that it’s possible the Falcons could be looking to upgrade the nickel corner spot, currently manned by Brian Poole. The Falcons haven’t picked a corner high in the draft since 2015, when they took Jalen Collins, but sadly, that didn’t pan out.
The team taking a corner would be quite a shock to many, and it’s not high on many draft wish lists. But, as our own Charles McDonald noted earlier this year, the Broncos found great success when they drafted CB Bradley Roby in the 2014 draft when the team already had strong corners in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. That team ended up winning a Super Bowl in 2016, largely due to their defense and secondary.
The scenario would be similar for the Falcons, with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford in tow. Alexander would likely play the slot early in his career, but he’s got the potential to line up on the outside, per NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein:
Twitchy and quick, Alexander is an instinctive cornerback with the ability to anticipate routes and the quickness to close on throws and make plays on the ball. He tape in 2017 was uneven due to issues with a sprained knee which could raise concerns over his durability considering his slender build. When healthy, he has the potential to become a second cornerback, but teams may view him as a full time nickel cornerback who is able to avoid the rigors of excessive run support.
The team would likely go defensive tackle in the second or third round in this scenario, but with Alexander in tow, could boast one of the better secondaries in the NFL. Poole, in this scenario, would become excellent depth as a CB4, and could even take over as Ricardo Allen’s main backup at free safety, now that Damontae Kazee is going to be getting more reps at cornerback (D-Led mentions that he will compete with Poole for the nickel slot, but an Alexander pick would pretty much settle that battle then and there).
Alexander doesn’t feel like the most obvious pick, and again, this could just be the team doing due diligence on the field at their pick. But, as D-Led noted, they’ve also worked out Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver, so this makes the second first-round prospect at the position the team has checked in on.
So, consider corner a potential surprise with the team’s first-round pick. A guy like Alexander would give the team a major strength in the secondary going into 2018. In a pass-happy league, that’s not a bad thing in the slightest.