The Atlanta Falcons were in the market for playmakers on both sides of the football, but where does their second pick Isaiah Oliver fit in with a crowded cornerback group? We take a look at some scouting reports to see what we should expect in 2018 and beyond.
Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly had Oliver as their 32nd best player in the draft, and sums up Oliver as an elite athlete that’s still rough around the edges.
Ideal measurements for the position — good height and weight, big hands and extremely long arms (33.5 inches). Great athletic traits and bloodlines. Smooth mover who transitions well — very nice hips and feet. Press-man corner who knows how to shoot his hands well to jam and reroute receivers in bump-and-run coverage. Maintains his balance and control while disrupting receivers’ routes. High upside — his best football appears to be in front of him.
The downside is Oliver needs to build up strength and work on his technique. I have seem many people describe him as a more-polished Jalen Collins, obviously without the off-the-field problems.
Dan Quinn has had a ton of success developing similar players in Seattle, so I’m not worried about his long-term prospects. Edholm does not expect much in his rookie year, but do not be surprised to see him in at nickel over Brian Poole. For clarification, Oliver would likely play outside with Alford covering inside in nickel.
Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports likes the Oliver pick for his pure skill.
Chris Trapasso: Burner on the outside who can run with any wideout down the field. Coached well to get his head around when the ball is approaching. Lanky and athletic enough to routinely get his hands on the football.
I think the consensus is Oliver has the physical tools to be a top corner, but has awhile before he could potentially get there. Of course, if he was ready to start day one, he could have gone in the top 10.
Billy Marshall of SB Nation’s Cat Scratch Reader broke down some Oliver film. I’m including some highlight clips from the review as well.
The first thing that jumps out about Oliver is his length. He has a tall stature with long arms to disrupt any receiver at the line of scrimmage. Oliver’s ball skills might be questioned because of his poor interception total, but he plays the ball very well when it’s in the air. Oliver is patient in his back pedal, but he’s also physical with the receiver at the catch point. Due to his athleticism, he’s always in close proximity with pass catchers on vertical routes.
Marshall suggests Oliver is a little more polished than other scouting reports. Even if he needs some work, his athleticism really helps him out, like in this pass breakup.
He has Oliver ranked as a day one starter, but a bit close to a contributor then starter in year two.
NFL dot com’s Lance Zierlein covered Oliver, and came to a lot of the same conclusions.
Oliver possesses an outstanding combination of size, speed and length and those traits are highly coveted by NFL general managers. There are coverage holes in Oliver’s game and he needs to play with increased toughness, but he’s just scratching the surface of what his talent could allow him to do on the next level with more experience and technique work. Oliver has a high ceiling as a bump-and-run, lockdown corner, but might benefit from a limited role his rookie season.
I think Zierlein’s opinion is the most likely to play out. Quinn keeps his defense pretty easy to master, as we have seen a number of raw and undrafted corners fill in, especially during 2016. I’d expect Oliver to learn during the season, but to get the lion’s share of nickel snaps over Poole. Side note: I think Poole would be one of the league’s best dime corners.
Tyler Green of SB Nation’s Silver and Black Pride suggests Oliver could be considered the best corner in the entire draft. Seriously though, this guy has Dan Quinn written all over him.
Isaiah Oliver’s biggest asset is his ridiculous length. He has the longest arms (33 1⁄2 - inches) of any cornerback in this class, and in the last 20 years only 6 corner prospects have measured longer. Oliver takes full advantage of this as he takes away the catch radius of receivers making it difficult for them to win in jump-ball situations.
Green criticizes Oliver’s abilities in off-man and zone coverage, saying Oliver should stick in press coverage early on. I imagine that thought gets Quinn fired up.
That covers Oliver’s time in college, which again feels very reminiscent of Collins without a lot of the negatives. I see a lot of trial by fire for Oliver, and have to expect the good with the bad. However, with the help of Marquand Manuel, it would be safe to say he could become more playmaker than liability even early on.