In a Sirius XM Radio interview, Atlanta Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff finally made clear a slightly unclear situation among Falcons cornerbacks. In the interview, he said that he views Grimes and Samuel as outside corners, and Dunta Robinson as a corner he wants to play inside, against the slot receiver.
This came as a bit of a surprise to me. With the addition of Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator I had a suspicion that the Falcons would begin to run a bit more 3-4 defense in addition to their typical Cover-2 out of a 4-3 defense. I don’t know that they necessarily won’t, but I think the thought of Robinson as a nickel corner signifies that the Falcons will not stray too far away from their 4-3 roots.
I don’t think there is any doubt that Asante Sameul was always going to play outside corner. He may allow the big play behind him sometimes, but for the most part he can lock down a team’s #1 receiver and make plays on the ball. I view Robinson in much the same way; a player who works best playing the flat, keeping the receiver in front of him and allowing safety help to play the receiver if he gets out of his zone. That being said, Robinson is not fantastic in coverage (at least not in his time in Atlanta) and is a poor man’s Samuel. And I mean really poor man’s Samuel.
Grimes, to me, has the most versatility, but the greater ability in man coverage. He is quick and athletic with great ball skills, traits that I felt would be best served covering the slot receiver. I guess that Thomas Dimitroff does not feel the same way, and I must defer to his opinion as he is in the position of building this team, and I am not.
Now that I am thinking of Robinson in the slot, I can see a point. If he jams the receiver (which he will HAVE to do as a nickelback) he will be able to re-route the receiver, keep his eyes on the quarterback, and make plays on the ball. His forte is certainly in being physical, and he did cover the slot a lot while in Houston. Apparently well enough for the Falcons to give him a huge contract. Maybe this is the positional move that will allow us to get the most out of Robinson and his huge contract. Regardless of what happens, all of the corners will have to be tremendous team players to take what is viewed as a lesser role on the defense, but help out for the betterment of the team.