News: Atlanta’s secondary ranked 22nd by Pro Football Focus – Falcons Wire

Despite playing in one of the NFL’s worst secondaries last season, Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell established himself as one of the best at his position. The former first-round pick earned second-team All-Pro honors in his second year out of Clemson.

While the future is obviously bright for Terrell, what about the rest of Atlanta’s secondary? On paper, it appears to have improved, mostly due to the addition of Pro Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward — who will give the Falcons a nice one-two punch on the outside.

It’s those other spots in the secondary, mainly at safety, where the questions remain.

Falcons projected starting secondary in 2022

CB: A.J. Terrell CB: Casey Hayward Nickel: Isaiah Oliver Safety: Jaylinn Hawkins Safety: Erik Harris

Pro Football Focus ranked every NFL secondary going into 2022, dividing them into five tiers. The Falcons were ranked 22nd overall, landing in the “serious flaws” tier of Michael Renner’s list.

PFF on Atlanta’s 22nd-ranked secondary:

“No cornerback duo heading into 2022 gave up fewer yards last season than Casey Hayward and A.J. Terrell, who combined to allow only 588 yards,” writes Renner. “While it’s not quite that simple, with Hayward playing in Las Vegas in 2021, that’s a good starting point for a defense. The problem is, that’s also where it ends in terms of reasons to get excited about this unit.”

Where did PFF rank the other NFC South secondaries?

Marshon Lattimore Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Bucs: 2nd (Tier 1) New Orleans Saints: 7th (Tier 1) Carolina Panthers: 15th (Tier 3)

Two other NFC South teams — the Bucs and Saints — were ranked in PFF’s top tier. As for the Panthers, even they got more respect than the Falcons. Carolina led off PFF’s third tier (ascending units) at No. 15 overall.

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