FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Not only do the Falcons possess talent on defense across the board, they also have depth, perhaps one the biggest reasons for the excitement that surrounds the 2017 Falcons.
The latter of the two could prove to be even more critical than the talented starting lineup the team possesses.
One of the positions the Falcons' roster is deepest at is at cornerback, Atlanta currently has nine on their 90-man roster: Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Brian Poole, Jalen Collins, C.J. Goodwin, Deji Olatoye, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Akeem King and Jarnor Jones.
Head coach Dan Quinn has often said that a team can never have too many cornerbacks and pass-rushers, and that's exactly how he and general manager Thomas Dimitroff have built this roster.
Ahead of Atlanta's final game of the 2016 season, the Falcons had six cornerbacks on its active roster – not including Trufant who was placed on IR in late November.
The Falcons have their No. 1 and No. 2 cornerbacks locked up for the foreseeable future in Trufant and Alford. And the unit also returns Poole, a second-year player who showed promise filling the role as the nickel cornerback for majority of the season.
Outside of those three, the battle for the fourth and fifth cornerback spots is in full force – just the way Quinn likes it as the Falcons head into their final two preseason games.
Atlanta's program is centered around competition, and that's exactly what they have at cornerback.
"There was a number of examples where we played some man-to-man so we could see these guys stand up and play. I was encouraged by a lot of the work by the corners so far."
Goodwin, Olatoye and Wilson have all made eye-catching plays throughout various points of training camp. King recorded his first interception of the year in the Falcons' second preseason game versus the Steelers. Jones, a rookie free agent out of Iowa State, has seen a significant amount of snaps. Collins saw limited time in the Falcons' second preseason game and will miss the first 10 games of the regular season as he serves his suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances.
Similar to what Quinn has said about the receiver battle, outside of the play within the defense, how these cornerbacks can make an impact on special teams will play a role in who makes the final cut.
"I think we have more work to do to find out," Quinn said. "We are gaining that information as we are going, it's a good group, they are battling for it. Not just defensively, but if you're a corner and you are at the fourth of fifth spot, you really better have an impact on teams as well. Everything for them is part of the evaluation and I thought there was an arrow up from their spot from last week to this week."
The Falcons have to trim their roster down to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on Sept. 2.