Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Cornerbacks

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

This is the eighth of a 10-part, position-by-position series analyzing the Falcons’ roster after their offseason program. Coming Thursday: Safeties. When the Falcons report for training camp on July 26, they’ll have their $68.75 million man, Desmond Trufant, back at left cornerback.

Falcons general manger Thomas Dimitroff made it clear at the team’s No. 1 priority entering the offseason was re-signing left cornerback Desmond Trufant.

Trufant signed a six-year, $68.75 million contract extension in April, just about guaranteeing that he will finish his career with the Falcons.

Defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel believes that Trufant grew as a leader while recovering from his torn pectoral injury last season..

Trufant returned during the team’s mandatory minicamp and appears set to open training camp healthy.

With Trufant, Robert Alford, Brian Poole and Jalen Collins all seasoned now, the Falcons have some options to mix and match their coverages better.

Manuel said all four can play the slot if necessary in the nickel defense. All can play outside, too.

“That’s been the most exciting thing,” Manuel said. “I was explaining that to them. We know what we are going to get. By Tru going out, we’ve taken our game to another level.”

Trufant stayed with the team and helped in the meeting room last season.

“Not only for Trufant in a leadership role, but that was the first time that he was in a leadership role,” Manuel said. “That helped him while being with the team and not being able to play. Tru is a competitor. The ultimate competitor.

“Now, he has to take the leadership role verbally, which now helps him in the room. Now, he can pull up the young guys and say hey, ‘come over here and do this.’”

Manuel has seen the process before when younger defensive backs start to get their footing in the NFL.

“I watched (Richard) Sherman do that,” Manuel said. “I watched Earl (Thomas) do that. I watched Kam (Chancellor) do that. So we are in a nice and blessed spot right now with all of them.”

Collins, who was forced to start down the stretch last season, quietly went about his offseason.

With the return Trufant, the Falcons now have some quality depth at the position.

“That’s the cool part,” Manuel said. “Now you have a guy who can play dime. He can play outside. He has more value to the team.”

Collins slid down the depth chart after he was suspended for the first four games of last season. The former second-round pick from LSU stayed ready until Trufant suffered a torn pectoral injury and was placed on injured reserve.

Collins started the final six games of the regular season and three playoff games. He played 428 defensive snaps (38.3 percent) during the regular season. He compiled 48 tackles, including 10 in the Super Bowl, 12 pass breakups and two interceptions.

The Falcons like to sit in their cover-three zone, but now, because of the newfound depth, have some options.

“We have to understand that we have guys who are able to (pay man-to-man),” Manuel said. “Teams are going to methodically try to score points and do certain things at certain times. We are going to have to mix it up. Mix and match.”

The Falcons also drafted Damontee Kazee in the fifth round of the draft. Also, C.J. Goodwin and Deji Olatoye return.

Here’s a look at the projected depth chart heading into training camp:


ExploreWR 11 Julio Jones, 14 Justin Hardy, 19 Andre Roberts, 1 Reggie Davis, 17 Marvin Hall
ExploreLT 70 Jake Matthews, 66 Kevin Graf, 79 Will Freeman
ExploreLG 67 Andy Levitre, 64 Sean Harlow, 72 Cornelius Edison, 69 Marquis Lucas
ExploreC 51 Alex Mack, 63 Ben Garland, 61 Travis Averill, 62 Cam Keizur
ExploreRG [71 Wes Schweitzer, 63 Ben Garland], 68 Trevor Robinson
ExploreRT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 76 Daniel Brunskill, 75 Andreas Knappe
ExploreTE 81 Austin Hooper, 80 Levine Toilolo, 82 Joshua Perkins, 86 D.J. Tialavea, 85 Eric Saubert, 49 Darion Griswold

WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 18 Taylor Gabriel, 13 Devin Fuller, 15 Nick Williams, 16 Anthony Dable, 87 Deante Burton, 7 Josh Magee

ExploreQB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 4 Matt Simms, 4 Alek Torgersen
ExploreRB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 28 Terron Ward, 38 Brian Hill, 35 B.J. Daniels

FB 40 Derrick Coleman, 39 Tyler Renew


ExploreDE 99 Adrian Clayborn, 98 Takkarist McKinley, 96 Martin Ifedi
ExploreDT 92 Dontari Poe, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 92 Joe Vellano
ExploreDT 97 Grady Jarrett, 91 Courtney Upshaw, 74 Taniela Tupou
ExploreDE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 95 Jack Crawford, 90 Derrick Shelby, 93 Chris Odom
ExploreSLB 59 DeVondre Campbell, 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 50 Brooks Reed, Jack Lynn
ExploreLB 45 Deion Jones, 53 LaRoy Reynolds, 52 Josh Keyes
ExploreWLB 36 Kemal Ishmael, 42 Duke Riley, 56 Jermaine Grace, 55 J’Terius Jones

CB 23 Robert Alford, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 25 Akeem King, 39 Janor Jones, 38 Taylor Reynolds

NB 34 Brian Poole, 33 Blidi-Wreh-Wilson, 27 Damontae Kazee

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 32 Jalen Collins, 30 Deji Olatoye, 41 Quincy Mauger

S 37 Ricardo Allen, 20 Sharrod Neasman, 35 Marcelis Branch

S 22 Keanu Neal, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 48 Jordan Moore, 49 Deron Washington


K 3 Matt Bryant, 6 Mike Meyer

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 19 Andre Roberts, 14 Justin Hardy, 13 Devin Fuller, 38 Brian Hill

PR 19 Andre Roberts, 14 Justin Hardy, 13 Devin Fuller, 18 Taylor Gabriel

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher