The Falcons were not content with their cornerback depth heading into this year, not after they trimmed the roster. They brought back the always useful Blidi Wreh-Wilson and drafted both Kendall Sheffield and Jordan Miller, giving them six interesting cornerbacks minimum, should they want to keep that many.
The difference between being the fourth corner and the fifth corner on this roster may not be that impressive, given how much the Falcons will lean on their top three guys and depending on how they choose to divvy up snaps. Even so, who is in the driver’s seat to be at least the de facto fourth guy in this corps?
Let’s take a closer look at the race with one preseason game left.
Sheffield is one of the most physically gifted defensive backs on this roster, so you can understand why Dan Quinn was drawn to him. He looked really good with the pads off, and even in early game action he certainly had moments where his speed and physicality popped off the screen.
Unfortunately for Sheffield, an injury has robbed him of the last two weeks, and that put him a bit behind the eight ball. Sheffield always figured to be a bigger factor down the line than this year, but his appealing athleticism and skill set should still get him on the field. He’s likely going to have to practice well in the weeks ahead to carve out a major role in year one, because we’re still not sure if he’s even suiting up for this final preseason game.
I swore up and down heading into the year that Jordan Miller’s polish didn’t necessarily give him a leg up over Sheffield. Polish, much more playing time, and Sheffield’s injury is likely to do just that, however.
Miller’s taken his lumps at times, but what’s most striking about watching him is how solid he’s looked and how little the mistakes he has made seem to impact him. You knew when he was demanding to cover Julio Jones that Miller didn’t lack for confidence, but asking for something like that in practice and playing well against other teams’ receivers are two entirely different things. His coverage has been as good (or better, considering it’s healthy to have some skepticism of a sixth round selection in his first game action) as advertised, and he’s shown the kind of instincts that should make him an asset sooner than later.
Miller’s probably got a leg up on Sheffield because he’s gotten more time to make his case, and as such I’d expect him to be the de facto fourth corner heading into the year.
BWW is a bit of an afterthought here, but you should never count him out. Wreh-Wilson was viewed as a bit of a bust by the time he got to Atlanta, but all he’s done since arriving here is consistently play well in limited opportunities.
If the team takes a hard look at Sheffield and his injuries and mishaps to this point, and decide that Miller isn’t quite ready for primetime after all his snaps this summer, it’s fair to wonder whether Wreh-Wilson will go into the year as the de facto #4. It kind of feels overdue, but because we’re uncertain the Falcons are even keeping six cornerbacks, it’s not even clear whether Wreh-Wilson will make the roster. All we know is that he should.
Probable Winner: Jordan Miller