We’re in the depths of the offseason here at The Falcoholic, and there has been little to nothing in the way of interesting news in ages. So, we’ll have to make some content of our own in the meantime. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you a new Player Profile series where we’ll take a look at each of the players on Atlanta’s roster. I’ll break down their measurables, past production, and try to project their 2020 season with the Falcons.
After taking a look at the projected starters, we now turn our attention to the depth on the Falcons’ roster. Today, I’ll be discussing CB Darqueze Dennard—a late free agent addition who is slated to be a starter in Atlanta, either on the inside or outside.
CB Darqueze Dennard
Age: 28 (29 during 2020 season)
Contract: Details not known, projected: 1-year, $4.5M
Career Production: 77 games played, 24 games started | 274 total tackles, 5.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 3 FF | 22 PD, 3 INT | 69.6 overall PFF grade
2019 Production: 9 games played, 5 games started | 37 total tackles, 1.0 TFL, 7.5% missed tackle rate | 5 PD, 48.6% completions allowed, 74.5 passer rating allowed | 72.2 overall PFF grade
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 1st round (#24 overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals (2014-2019), Atlanta Falcons (2020)
Heading into training camp, the biggest position of concern for most Falcons fans and analysts was CB. The Falcons parted ways with long-time starter Desmond Trufant, leaving the unit stocked with a lot of youth—including first-round pick A.J. Terrell—but not much in the way of proven veteran talent. Atlanta had enough cap space to make a move, but waited until recently to make their decision. The team chose to sign veteran CB Darqueze Dennard to a 1-year deal to address the lack of depth in the CB corps.
Dennard was a common name brought up when discussing free agent targets for Atlanta, and the move makes a lot of sense for the Falcons. For starters, Dennard was a very talented player coming out of Michigan State and wound up a first-round pick of the Bengals back in 2014. He spent 6 seasons with the team, primarily as the slot CB, with the majority of those years playing at the level of an average to good starter.
Dennard’s 2019 got off to a bit of a rocky start, as he began the year on PUP and didn’t return to the field until Week 7. However, in his 9 games played, Dennard had one of the best seasons of his career. He allowed just a 48.6% completion percentage in coverage, posted a 72.2 overall PFF grade in 2019, and has graded out as the 12th-best slot CB in the NFL since 2017. He’s a strong athlete that offers the versatility to play inside and outside, but is most effective in the slot due to his lack of ideal length.
Dennard’s presence gives the Falcons options at CB. If A.J. Terrell or Isaiah Oliver are struggling on the outside, he can step in and solidify the position. If Kendall Sheffield struggles in the slot—or if, as some have speculated, the team wants Sheffield to play more on the outside—Dennard can give Atlanta the top slot CB they’ve lacked since Brian Poole left in 2019.
Projection: Darqueze Dennard will be one of Atlanta’s starting CBs in 2020, although it’s still unclear if that will be on the inside or outside. My hunch is that Dennard takes over the slot CB role and gives the Falcons a plus option on the inside, while providing depth and leadership to the young players on the outside. If that’s the case, expect Dennard to be a significant upgrade over what Atlanta had in the slot in 2019.