Falcons Expected to Select Cornerback as First-Round Pick

CJ Henderson

getty CJ Henderson #1 of the Florida Gators runs for yardage.

The Falcons have officially moved on from their starting cornerback Desmond Trufant on Monday. A team who was once in the need for a first-round edge rusher is now shopping for a cornerback, or at least should be.

The Falcons signed former Rams pass rusher Devonte Fowler on Wednesday so that need is taken care of for now. They also took care of filling another tight end slot once Austin Hooper officially signed with the Browns, the Falcons traded the Ravens for Hayden Hurst who is highly underrated. 

Trufant spent seven years in Atlanta and was released with a post-June 1 designation which means he’ll get have the money now and the rest later. As for now, the other half he’s waiting on most likely went signing Fowler.

Falcons New Priority

The Falcons priority has been the defensive line, but their new focus is on drafting a first-round cornerback at their No. 16 pick.

The defensive line is nearly set now that they have a quality edge rusher under their belt with Fowler. They also re-signed defensive end Steven Means who is someone they can count on the defensive.

Currently, the Falcons have two young guys are the cornerback position, Isiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield. They both have promising futures but haven’t been consistent and are still only backup quality. This leaves the Falcons needing to bring some newbies this offseason and a starter.

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Possible No. 16 Pick

The Falcons best bet at a first-round cornerback is C.J. Henderson from the University of Florida. Jeffery Okudah of Ohio State would be a nice catch, but he’s expected to go pretty early, before the 16th pick. That makes Henderson the next best thing.

Henderson stands at 6’1″, 205 pounds. Last season he recorded 33 tackles and 11 pass breakups which led him to receive first-team All-SEC honors.

The Florida Gator proved himself NFL worthy as a junior, but really caught the attention of many scouts at the NFL Combine. He proved to be the most athletic athlete at his position. Henderson ran a 4.39 40-yard dash, had a 37.5-inch vert and he also put up 20 reps on the bench press.

NFL analyst Lance Zierlein calls Henderson’s athleticism “silky smooth” in his analysis. Not just smooth…silky.

Silky smooth boundary cornerback with mirror-and-match footwork and the agility and athleticism to stay connected to routes. He has NFL recovery burst and the long speed to track vertical routes downfield. He has the twitchy acceleration to jump a throw and take it away if the quarterback lingers on the target, and he’s quick to wrap and finish after the catch. He makes mental mistakes from time to time and occasionally loses awareness from zone. He’s willing and capable in run support but needs better control as an open-field tackler. Henderson is a fluid cornerback with ball skills and burst and has CB1 ability as a first-rounder.

The Falcons have already made some smart moves to fill holes for next season, let’s hope they make a smart cornerback move too.

READ NEXT: How Hayden Hurst Went From MLB to First Round NFL Draft Pick


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