The Falcons don’t have the most impressive roster; In fact, the team could use an influx of talent across the board. Atlanta’s offensive line is one of the worst in the league when it comes to passing sets, the pass rush has been non-existent for most of the last decade, the safety unit is incredibly unproven, and the receiving core could use a different playmaker. However, there is one unit that ranks among the best in the league – cornerback.
AJ Terrell quite enjoyed the breakout campaign in 2021 and was predictably rewarded with All-Pro honors despite being snubbed by the Pro Bowl. After an intriguing rookie season, the former Clemson Tiger came out last year and knocked out everyone he faced.
The receiver trail Terrell has left is quite impressive – he held Deebo Samuel, Jaylen Waddle and Corey Davis to 0 yards in their respective matchups. He also passed just 19 yards to Michael Gallup and 24 yards to Stefon Diggs.
Terrell is well on his way to being considered one of the league’s best cover men, speaking to the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Jaire Alexander and Darius Slay. However, the Falcons trusted Fabian Moreau over him for much of the 2021 season. And while he was fine, he was attacked at an obscene rate by quarterbacks because of Terrell’s dominance.
Terry Fontenot decided to fix that by signing Casey Hayward to a two-year, $11 million deal. He’s coming off a season in which he started all 17 games for the Raiders and drastically exceeded his contract. Hayward recorded 46 tackles, stopped nine passes and had one interception while completing just 57.1% of his 56 goals. Opposing quarterbacks had a 91.9 cumulative passer rating when they targeted him in 2021.
The Falcons have two high-level corners, and Hayward’s presence as a veteran will only make his opposite number better. However, the former Green Bay packer might think Terrell is already better than him. “I don’t think I’ve ever had someone as talented on the other side as AJ.” said Hayward.
That’s what a two-time Pro Bowler with a career spanning decades told the media he Seen Terrell’s movie. Hayward’s words carry weight; He’s played with some good corners in this league. “Pretty good guys, don’t get me wrong” Hayward said of his former teammates: “but not as talented as AJ.”
want more proof According to Seth Walder, Terrell and Hayward finished first and second in yards allowed per coverage snap last season. The Falcons secondary is in good hands. The tandem has the potential to become one of the best duos in football this season.
Photographer: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire