Going back to the 2015 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons decided to add a 6’1 corner with length to the roster with hopes of teaming with veteran starters Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford and form a dangerous trio for years to come.
Three years later, the Falcons no longer employ that 6’1 corner, one Jalen Collins. Now the Falcons turn to 2018 second-round pick Isaiah Oliver to provide that size and length to an already stout secondary, hopefully with better results. Here is the scouting report on the former Colorado cornerback.
Isaiah Oliver Scouting Report
Weight: 201 lbs
Games watched: vs. Washington State (2016), vs. Oklahoma State (2016), vs. USC (2017), vs. UCLA (2017), vs. Utah (2017), vs. Texas State (2017)
Strengths: Do you like your cornerback with size and length? Then you will enjoy Mr. Oliver. Oliver posted great workout numbers in the pre-draft process with a 4.5 40-yard dash, 35.5 inch vertical leap, 6.85 three-cone drill, along with 33.5 inch arm length. Just on his arm length alone, Oliver bests the likes of Josh Norman, Morris Claiborne, Trumaine Johnson, Marcus Peters, and Byron Jones, just to name a few. Oliver is a two-sport athlete, spending time on the football field and as a decathlete. His accolades as a decathlete includes being a two-time All-Pac 12 performer.
Oliver is an excellent blend of size, speed, and length. His measurements are constantly on display regardless if he is in man or zone coverage. Oliver’s straight line speed is surprisingly exceptional given his size. According to Pro Football Focus, Oliver only allowed a 23.8 passer rating on all go-routes during the 2017 season.
In the Gif above, Oliver is in man coverage as he opens his hips to run stride for stride with the receiver on a go-pattern. Oliver’s length comes into play as he makes an incredible over the shoulder interception over the shorter receiver.
Oliver has the ability to time his pass breakups well without interfering with the receiver, a facet of his game that has matured over the course of his career. Oliver has also shown the skill to play effectively on both sides of the field. The big corner is smooth in his backpedal and shows plenty of fluidity when he has to turn and run with receivers. In addition, Oliver is reliable in run support and not afraid nor hesitant to come up and either make a tackle or take on blocks to fight through for the tackle.
Weaknesses: As is the case with many big corners, change-of-direction is a deficiency of Oliver’s. It is notably when he plays mainly in off-coverage but with the proper coaching that the Falcons possess, it is fixable. The coaching staff will also need to focus on Oliver improving his play strength. With receivers such as Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, Alshon Jeffery, Allen Robinson in the NFC South/NFC, he’ll need to be stronger to truly hold his own.
Oliver will also have to improve with breaking down in space when it comes to tackling. Also of note, in three seasons on the collegiate level, Oliver only recorded three total interceptions. While it may not be an indicator of his impact in that realm on the NFL level, it is noteworthy known that he also recorded 25 pass breakups in that same span.
Conclusion: The Falcons had a first round grade on Oliver and rightfully so. Seeing him still available at 58th overall was totally unexpected. His addition to a secondary that includes Trufant, Alford, and Brian Poole at corner will only elevate an already good group.
Oliver will allow the Falcons to slide Alford or Trufant in the slot and provide themselves with a versatile, potent secondary. His presence will also be helpful against some of the bigger receivers in the league today. With the attributes that Oliver brings to the table, he should be able to fulfill the role that the defense once thought Collins would be able to fill. The talent of Oliver will be seen on day one, I believe, and I expect Oliver to have an instant impact on the Falcons defense.