Dan Quinn Praises A.J. Terrell's Leadership Ability


Heading into last April's NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons knew they needed to address a porous pass defense. Last season they allowed 245 passing yards per game, 11th worst in the league. 

With their first round pick, the Falcons took former Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell at number sixteen overall. The team is hoping Terrell, who is from the Atlanta area, can come back home and provide immediate help in an area of need. 

“Well, hopefully, we can get him ready to play quickly, and he'll be an outside corner first," Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said back in April. "That's where he's got the most experience and where he's really thrived. So that's where we'll start him. Outside first, and we'll hope to get situated and hope to get started with him just as soon as that's all permissible."

With team activities being limited due to the ongoing pandemic, the Falcons coaching staff has yet to see Terrell suited up and on the practice field. However, NFL Network analyst Mike Giardi recently noted that Quinn has been very impressed by the rookie's leadership abilities. 

"Dan Quinn highlighted (him), saying ‘look, hard to know what players look like since you can’t get them on the field, but when it comes to the meetings, A.J. Terrell right away is becoming a lead dog amongst that rookie class.’" Giardi said recently on NFL Now. 

Terrell came to Clemson as a five-star prospect and spent three seasons making plays in the Tigers secondary. He finished his college career with 101 tackles, 13 passes defended, and six interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown in the 44-16 win over Alabama in the 2018 national title game. 

Once teams can finally get their players back on the field, Giardi thinks that Terrell has the potential to come in and be a difference-maker from day one. With the Falcons desperately in search of improved secondary play, that is exactly what they need out of the rookie cornerback. 

"I’ve been around 20 years covering the National Football League," Giardi said. "Just because you’re a first-rounder, doesn’t mean you’re a leader. Dan Quinn looks to A.J. Terrell as a leader.

"If they can get those two guys playing at a high level in the secondary (Terrell and Keanu Neal), that could be a very good unit. A unit that has been an Achilles heel for them the last couple of seasons.”