Saints Draft Prospect: CB A.J. Terrell

Bob Rose

The New Orleans Saints will enter the 2020 season with one of league’s best starting duos at cornerback. Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins form one of the NFL’s most formidable tandems against any receiving corps, and will be one key to any defensive success this season. The depth behind Jenkins and Lattimore is a question though. Second year defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was outstanding in the slot during his rookie campaign but could play more safety this season. The team re-signed P.J. Williams and restructured the contract of Patrick Robinson this offseason, but both players are often heavily targeted by opponents with success when they’re on the field. They also signed Deatrick Nichols out of XFL’s Houston Roughnecks in hopes he adds some ball-hawking ability to the position.

Today’s NFL is predicated on multi-receiver sets and multiple defensive backs being used to stop it, so New Orleans should address the lack of depth at this spot in the upcoming draft. The Saints own the 24th overall pick of the 1st round, along with selections in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds. Some mock drafts have New Orleans grabbing a defensive player with their first round choice, and there are several talented defensive backs who will be available. Today’s draft profile looks at one such player who has excelled at a college football powerhouse.

A.J. Terrell, CB (Clemson) 6’1 195-Lbs.


Aundell Terrell Jr. (A.J.) committed to the powerful Clemson program as a five-star recruit out of Westlake High School in Atlanta, GA. He saw action as a true freshman for a 2017 Tigers team that advanced to the college football championship game. Terrell was a key starter for Clemson’s national championship team in 2018, intercepting 3 passes, breaking up seven others, and forcing 2 fumbles. He earned first team All-ACC honors last season with two interceptions and six pass breakups as one of the Tigers best defensive players in their third straight trip to the national title game.

NFL Scouting Combine Statistics

40-Yd dash = 4.42 (7th among defensive backs)

Vertical jump = 34.5”

Broad jump = 129” (8th among defensive backs) comparison 

(via Lance Zierlein) = Pierre Desir (Jets)

Jan 11, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Clemson Tigers cornerback A.J. Terrell (8) during a walk through practice at the Hilton Riverside. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Terrell has the height and athleticism of a prototypical NFL cornerback but struggled against the LSU receivers in Clemson’s national title game loss. He must be more physical when in press coverage, often letting receivers gain advantage over him at the snap. He’s a bit slow to react to comeback routes and sharp cuts in front of him when off the ball. That delay can also result in him being caught flat-footed against doubt moves. Terrell’s recovery speed is average once he falls behind a receiver, something exposed against LSU. As a tackler, he delivers a good initial pop but must wrap up better and be more physical in run support.

January 7, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Clemson Tigers cornerback A.J. Terrell (8) defends against Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (11) during the first quarter of the 2019 College Football Playoff Championship game at Levi's Stadium. Clemson defeated Alabama 44-16. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Terrell has quick feet and mirroring abilities in man coverage, making him able to shadow a wideout all over the field. He reads opposing quarterbacks well and possesses good route recognition. His long arms and anticipation allow him to make a play on the ball on quick inside slants. Terrell has the agility and fluid coverage skills to be an immediate defensive contributor and potential longterm starter on the outside, with the versatility to play inside in some alignments. 

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

Doesn't sound like a 1st round pick.