Dan Quinn announced Monday that Atlanta Falcons cornerback turned safety Damontae Kazee will now be playing exclusively at the safety position.
Damontae Kazee was thrust into the safety position in back to back seasons due to multiple injuries to Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen. It is no question that the Atlanta Falcons will line Kazee up at the free safety position.
No more will he be used as a nickel corner. Kazee is also too small to be considered a replacement for Neal as a box safety. However, this does leave some questions that need to be answered.
What does this mean for Ricardo Allen? Allen is still a vital piece in this Atlanta Falcons defense. Due to an injury to Neal in 2019, Allen was forced to play the strong safety position and the Falcons moved Kazee back to the deep safety slot after a rather successful 2018. Although Kazee lacks range and natural safety instincts, this could be the path the Atlanta Falcons take in 2020. What does this mean for Keanu Neal who is on the final year of his rookie contract.
If Allen is placed back into the box safety role, it isn’t unheard of to move Neal down to an outside linebacker spot. Oluokun may have to wait another year to have his breakout season. Neal would be an exceptional asset as an outside coverage linebacker, especially in the NFC South where passing is at its best.
The issues that plagued Kazee in 2019 may be righted if he has an offseason to prepare, rather than being thrust into an unfitting spot last minute. Moving Neal to an outside linebacker role can also address the loss of De’Vondre Campbell. This leaves an open wound on the Atlanta Falcons defense and now all eyes are set to the cornerback spot in round one.
With the recent news that the Atlanta Falcons are looking to grab the draft by the horns and I’m not buying that Isaiah Simmons is the target. Could the team be anticipating for a blockbuster trade that resembles the mega-deal that allowed for the Atlanta Falcons to draft Julio Jones in 2011?
The Falcons gave up five picks – Cleveland struck out on all five – to move from the 26th slot to 6th. However, it would possibly require more than five picks to move all the way up to number three.
Okudah isn’t the only other corner that the Atlanta Falcons would possibly need to trade up for. Every day we get closer, CJ Henderson falls deeper and deeper into the top 10 range. Both the Chargers and the Dolphins are eyeing a quarterback and the Giants would be missing out on a top offensive lineman if they were to fall to 16 in a trade with Atlanta.
The same goes for Arizona who currently sits at 8th and is also looking to build around Kyler Murray. It would be a very tough sale to move ahead of either Carolina or Jacksonville to draft Henderson.
Or the Atlanta Falcons could stay put and pick from a number of top cornerbacks available in AJ Terrell, Kristian Fulton, Jeff Gladney, or Trevon Diggs. Any one of those guys would be a day one starter in Atlanta and with a deep corner class, the need to trade up isn’t as great if you don’t want Okudah.