One of the most popular positions in mock drafts this year has been cornerback, which is of course one of the two positions analysts typically have the Falcons going after this time of year.
Is there reason to believe the Falcons will add a cornerback just a year after adding two, and two years after using a second round draft choice on one? The answer is obviously yes, given that Atlanta’s drafted a ton of corners over the years, and given that they don’t seem completely satisfied with their current group.
Let’s take a look at the draft history from 2008-2019.
2008: Chevis Jackson, 3rd round
2008: Wilrey Fontenot, 7th round
2009: Chris Owens, 3rd round
2010: Dominique Franks, 5th round
2013: Desmond Trufant, 1st round
2013: Robert Alford, 2nd round
2014: Ricardo Allen, 5th round*
2015: Jalen Collins, 2nd round
2015: Akeem King, 7th round
2017: Damontae Kazee, 5th round*
2018: Isaiah Oliver, 2nd round
2019: Kendall Sheffield, 4th round
2019: Jordan Miller, 5th round
The Falcons have used 13 draft picks at the cornerback position from 2008-2019, or an average of more than one per year. It has been one of the team’s most productive positions in the draft, as they’ve snagged multiple quality starters, even though a couple of them ultimately switched positions.
The problem is that they’ve also missed a lot. Jackson, Fontenot, Franks, and King never really played much of a role with Atlanta, Collins and Owens were multi-year starters who went down as disappointments for different reasons, and Allen and Kazee both wound up at safety, not cornerback.
Setting aside the promising Kendall Sheffield and the unproven Miller, Atlanta’s success at drafting cornerbacks who stayed at the position and enjoyed productive careers with the team is basically built around 2013, when they grabbed Desmond Trufant (7 seasons) and Robert Alford (6 seasons) with their first two selections. Isaiah Oliver has some promise and will likely enter 2020 as a starter, too, but he’s far from a proven high-end option at this point.
All that draft capital hasn’t landed the Falcons many great players, in other words, but this team has grabbed enough useful ones to not panic over them dipping back into that well again. If they go with one at #16, as some analysts have suggested, it’ll be the earliest they’ve snagged one in the Thomas Dimitroff era, which adds a new wrinkle.