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Falcons training camp battles: Blidi Wreh-Wilson vs. the young guys

Is the roster spot for Blidi in danger after the Falcons drafted two new corners?

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

With the departure of Brian Poole and the release of Robert Alford, the Falcons have some depth concerns at the cornerback position. It’s no surprise the team decided to bring back veteran Blidi Wreh-Wilson for another season and draft two additional corners in the 2019 draft class. Can we assume that Blidi will be the fourth corner on the depth chart (behind Desmond Trufant, Isaiah Oliver and Damontae Kazee) or will one of the new guys challenge him for that position? Let’s take a look.

The Challengers

Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 29 entering his fourth season with Atlanta

Blidi has been with the Falcons since the tail-end of 2016, receiving one-year contracts each year including this one. While it’s encouraging the team would continue to bring him back, it’s also somewhat odd that they won’t commit to more than one year at at time. He’s proven to be effective when he does get playing time, though his snaps have been relatively limited over the past few seasons. He has the measurables that Dan Quinn loves, standing 6’1” but we pretty much know who he is at this point. He’s a decent fill-in player who can start in a pinch.

Kendall Sheffield, 23 entering his first season with Atlanta

Drafted in the fourth round out of Ohio State, Sheffield’s higher draft position would indicate he has a better chance than Miller, but that may not be the case. Sheffield is considered an explosive athlete with the raw traits scouts covet. However, his technique needs refinement and he’s ball skills are sub-par and his instincts have been roundly criticized. He’s a player the coaching staff will need to spend a good amount of time with, but if he can develop, he has the raw potential to be a great steal in the mid-rounds. Time will tell.

Jordan Miller, 22 entering his first season with Atlanta

Miller is built more like a “Quinn” corner, standing 6’1” and a good athletic profile to match it. What makes Miller intriguing is that his best year in college wasn’t his last one. In 2017, he looked like an all-conference performer through the first seven games of the season. However, a leg injury ended his season early and his subsequent 2018 season looked like a let-down by comparison. GM Thomas Dimitroff intimated that Miller could be the steal of the draft, since he was downgraded after an injury season. Unlike Sheffield, the scouting report on Miller reads more like someone who - though not quite as athletic - is a little more ready with his ball skills and coverage ability. He’s definitely a player to keep an eye on this summer.

And the winner is ...

While I’d love to say Miller and Sheffield will be immediate contributors on day one, NFL reality says that most corners - even those drafted early - struggle in their first year in the league. Of the two rookies, I do think Miller has the better chance to contribute early, but there’s a reason Wreh-Wilson was signed to a one year deal yet again. He’s a proven commodity that can fill in perfectly in that CB4 role while the rookies take time to learn and develop. Unless Sheffield or Miller absolutely blows us away in the pre-season, the nod has to go to the veteran Blidi Wreh-Wilson.