You all know that I advocated fiercely for a defensive tackle with the team’s first round pick, given that it’s the biggest immediate need on the roster. After seeing the first two picks of this team’s draft, however, I’m willing to say that if this team walks away with a quality player at DT, they’ve killed this draft. On paper, of course.
Why? Because Ridley looks like a player, but Isaiah Oliver could prove to be a game-changing addition for Atlanta as well, both this year and in the future.
Why with Oliver? He’s a big, rangy, physical cornerback with obvious skill and coverage ability. He’s been compared to Brian Poole for his physicality, but he’s a better pure cornerback than Poole and figures to be able to play quite a bit outside with either Robert Alford or Desmond Trufant sliding inside in nickel sets. He matches up well with guys like Mike Evans due to that size and physicality, even if he’s unlikely to be able to go toe-to-toe with the NFL’s best right away. He’s both a short-term and long-term upgrade for the corps, though.
Chances are good Trufant and Alford will still be the team’s two corners in “base” sets, but with the Falcons playing so often out of the nickel, Oliver will get a ton of run, likely upwards of 30-40 snaps per game, and the Falcons have Poole, Damontae Kazee, and at least Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Justin Bethel around if injuries strike or they want to mix things up. I love it.
That also will free Poole up to do all sorts of fun things, like get on the field when the team needs four corners, get some time at safety, and perhaps become a stellar special teamer, which I’ve long believed he can be. Having Brian Poole as your fourth-best cornerback is almost