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There aren't many NFL defenders who had a better season in 2021 than former Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell.

The Atlanta Falcon ended the season ranked as the top corner by Pro Football Focus. During his breakout second season, Terrell allowed the fewest passing yards against him in the league, and PFF's 47.5% passer rating and 43.9% completion rating allowed were the best rates by a cornerback in the NFL.

Terrell finished the year with 81 tackles and three interceptions, two more than his rookie season. He had 16 passes defended as well. 

It was a big year for a player who was maligned when he was selected 16th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Pundits and fans thought the Falcons reached too high for the Clemson Tiger who was expected to go later in the draft. 

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However, SI's Falcon Report took a look at where Terrell would likely go in a hypothetical re-draft of 2020 players. He could've gone as high as fourth, potentially. 

Regardless, it looks like the Falcons got a steal with their draft selection two years ago. Terrell had an up-and-down rookie season in 2020 as he learned how to handle NFL receivers. But the huge jump in 2021 gives Atlanta a key defender to build around for the future. 

As Falcon Report pointed out, Terrell dominated at his position despite playing on a defense that produced the worst pass-rush in the league. He made the Pro Football Focus All-Pro first team, but Terrell was left off of the AP's All-Pro list and the Pro Bowl roster. 

He'll have something to shoot for in 2022, and the Falcons will likely draft to help him on a defense that gave up the seventh-most yards per game in 2021. 

Terrell had 101 tackles and six interceptions in three seasons at Clemson. He made the All-ACC first team in 2018 and helped the Tigers win a national title that season, returning an interception for a touchdown in the championship game against Alabama.

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