Second-year pro A.J. Terrell was one of the few bright spots on an under-manned 2021 Atlanta Falcons defensive unit. The Falcons finished 2022 29th in points allowed and 26th in yards allowed.
However, Terrell was named 1st Team All-Pro by Pro Football Focus (PFF). When grading the games, PFF credited Terrell with the lowest passer rating allowed (47.5) and the lowest completion rating allowed (43.9%).
He allowed just 200 yards against him in 16 games, the fewest amount of yards of any cornerback in the NFL that was targeted more than 40 times and the second-fewest yards against any player who played more than 11 games.
Terrell did all this while playing with not just the NFL’s worst pass rush, but by far the league’s worst pass rush with 18 sacks. The next lowest total in the NFL was 29 by the Philadelphia Eagles.
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If there was a re-draft of the 2020 class, how long before Terrell goes off the board? Fifth? Sixth?
Quarterbacks Joe Burrow (1, Bengals) and Justin Herbert (6, Chargers) still go before Terrell. Offensive Tackle Tristan Wirfs (13, Buccaneers) likely goes ahead of Terrell. Defensive linemen Chase Young (2, Washington), Derrick Brown (7, Panthers), Jonathan Greenard (90, Texans) would be a possibility. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson (22, Vikings) would get serious looks, too.
At best, Terrell goes as high as No. 4, and even if all seven players mentioned above were selected ahead of him, Terrell goes with the No. 8 overall pick.
Ironically, the Falcons pick No. 8 in the 2022 NFL Draft, and they’ve been linked with cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. of LSU.
If the Falcons could take the field with a pair of corners like Terrell, it would indirectly help the anemic pass rush by allowing defensive coordinator Dean Pees more options in bringing pressure until the personnel can be addressed.
The Falcons have also been linked with several edge rushers including George Karlaftis of Purdue and David Ojabo of Michigan. Either player should provide an immediate upgrade over Steven Means who started 14 games for the Falcons but managed just two tackles for loss and no sacks for the Falcons.
For the grief former general manager Thomas Dimitroff has received for his deconstruction of the Falcons and awful salary cap management, he struck gold on A.J. Terrell.
A.J. Terrell 2021 Highlights: