Updates will be posted here in The Bird Cage as they become available.
The Bird Cage Training Camp Battle Series, Topic 2: Battle for 5th Cornerback Spot. These aren’t given in any certain order, other than to spread out the big battles. This one might seem like a silly one since you’re talking about a player way down on the depth chart, but the Falcons roster is quite possibly the deepest it’s been in a long, long time.
The Falcons poor secondary is well-documented and ranked near the very bottom last year after getting torched throughout the season in all aspects of the game. Several quarterbacks had their best game of the season and even of their career (Eli Manning). Since Thomas Dimitroff and Coach Mike Smith took over, the Falcons secondary has been pretty awful. With the signing of Dunta Robinson, the emergence of Chris Owens and Brent Grimes, a possible bounce back from Chevis Jackson, veteran Brian Williams, and rookie Dominique Franks, there’s a possibility that someone might not be wearing read and black this season.
It’s easily apparent to see that Dunta Robinson will be the number 1 cornerback and his big contract in free agency represents that: safe. Brent Grimes has earned many starts over the last few years and ranked tied for 2nd in the NFL with 6 picks and may start this year: safe. Christopher Owens showed great flashes after starting in the second half season and may nab the open spot.
Most will scoff at this choice and its almost a certainty that Franks will make the team, but nothings a given in terms of the talent on this year’s roster and especially with Thomas Dimitroff’s highly selective nature for cornerbacks. Franks was thought by many to be one of the biggest steals in the draft and may even be vying for return duties. Franks is most definitely probably safe, but two of the only few Dimitroff-selected players to either not be on the current roster or practice squad were both cornerbacks: Wilrey Fontenot and William Middleton.
Jackson represents a tale of two years as an Atlanta Falcon. The former LSU cornerback came in as a rookie and had a pretty excellent year as a rookie where he basically won the nickel back spot and performed well on the way to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. Fans had high expectations for Jackson in his 2nd year, but for whatever reason the cornerback just didn’t make an impact. With a huge opening at one CB spot, Jackson failed to capitalize on the opportunity and was jumped by rookie Christopher Owens. With the signing of Dunta Robinson, drafting of Dominique Franks, and re-signing of veteran Brian Williams, Jackson looks to possibly be in a battle for the 5th spot with the savvy vet Williams for a possible last spot. Jackson seems to know what’s at stake and has reportedly had a good off-season.
The addition of Brian Williams as a Falcon the week before the opener was great news to fans who witnessed the disaster of the Birds trying to defend against the pass in pre-season (Billy Volek ring a bell?) and he was immediately inserted as a starter opposite Chris Houston. Even though the Falcons weren’t fantastic in terms of pass defense early on, they were 4-1 after beating Chicago, when Williams got hurt for the year. The rest is history in that the wheels fell off. The Birds then went on a terrible stretch going 3-5 over the next 8 games (nearly 2-6 without last second win vs. Bucs). The main reason was the atrocious pass defense. Williams obviously wasn’t the only reason the Falcons were off to a fast start, but he also was by far and away the best corner on the field. Williams suffered a terrible knee injury against the Bears and many thought that would be it in Atlanta. They re-signed him and are very happy with his progress. Do the Falcons continue going young or do they envision a Dunta Robison-Brian Williams starting combo?
-What’s your thought on the cornerback situation?
-Do the Falcons keep all six CB’s? Should they?
-Rank your cornerbacks in order of best to lesser?
-If the Birds do keep five, who goes?
-Is it a battle between Chevis Jackson and Brian Williams?