The Falcons had one of the better secondaries in the NFL a year ago, when they had Desmond Trufant coming back from injury, Robert Alford, and Brian Poole atop their depth chart. Now they have Trufant a full year removed from injury, Alford and Poole, and second round rookie draft pick Isaiah Oliver. That’s potentially extremely unfair.
With so much depth and such talent, cornerback is another one of those positions with very few big picture questions. Here’s one, though: Will Isaiah Oliver be an immediate impact player or not?
It’s a question with some fairly major implications. If Oliver is ready to step into starter’s snaps and play at a high level immediately, chances are this group of cornerbacks will be better than they were a year ago, when they already were pretty damn good. Oliver’s length and ability to attack the football make him a dream for Dan Quinn and Marquand Manuel to work with, and having him work outside in nickel sets while Robert Alford mans the slot would be phenomenal. If Oliver’s ready, this defense is one step closer to elite.
If he’s not ready, things look more like they did in 2017, with Poole providing physicality and quality coverage that is probably shy of what we’ll see from Oliver when he’s good to go. That’s not a bad outcome, but as we saw last season, it’s far from the best configuration against teams with three or more capable weapons in the passing game.
So we’ll hope that Oliver is ready. I think he is—I thought he was one of the best corners in this class, and it’s still surprising to me that he fell so far—and I think we’ll wind up seeing one of the great defenses in Falcons history with him on board.
What say you?