It is no secret amongst Atlanta Falcons fans, how great A.J. Terrell played in his rookie year. It was shocking to watch how fast he adjusted to covering some of the greatest athletes in the world.
It is no easy task being a corner in the NFL, they have historically struggled during rookie seasons. A.J. silenced that notion with an outstanding rookie year for the Atlanta Falcons.
When the Atlanta Falcons took Terrell with their 16th overall pick, most fans were highly critical of the young talent.
They remember watching the National Championship game between the Clemson Tigers and the LSU Tigers, where they saw Terrell covering Jamar Chase most of the night. Chase ended up with nine catches for 221 yards, helping the Tigers to a championship.
What most fans didn’t take into account was that Terrell played with flu-like symptoms, including a 102-degree fever.
It took nerves by Terrell to go out on the field feeling that way and trying to cover one of, if not the best wide receiver in the country. That shows his heart and drive to help his team win.
To add to that, Terrell was beaten by absolutely perfect passes and catches. Sometimes as a defender, there is simply nothing you can do, this was certainly the problem most of the night.
It simply wasn’t fair for fans to write Terrell off, based off of one game with the circumstances that he faced.
Atlanta Falcons 2020 first-round pick, A.J. Terrell, silenced his critics.
It didn’t start out pretty for Terrell, but he quickly found his footing in the Atlanta Falcons defense
Terrell opened his NFL career against D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and the Seattle Seahawks. That definitely was not an easy task for the first-rounder. He didn’t play his best, as he posted a Pro Football Focus grade of 43.4
The next week, a day before the Falcons’ next game, he was put on the Covid list. It was definitely a long couple of weeks for Terrell.
From that point on he took off.
Terrell posted a solid grade of 79.8, vs the Dallas Cowboys. Ignoring the result of that game, Terrell had to play against some solid receivers on the Cowboys. He did his part only allowing 2 receptions the whole game, according to Pro Football Focus.
His best game of his season was when the Falcons took on the Minnesota Vikings.
If you remember, this was the first game after head coach Dan Quinn was fired. This was also when Terrell posted his first, of what will be many, interceptions in his career. It was an impressive one too, he pinned the ball on his backside to secure the pick.
The Vikings, much like the Cowboys, have some talented receivers. Terrell was able to post a stellar 85.3 grade a
Something that a lot of Atlanta Falcons fans gloss over is Terrell’s willingness to go in and make a tackle. He consistently was able to beat his blocker and make the tackle on the outside. It is something that former Falcons corner, Desmond Trufant always excelled at. Terrell proved that he can fill the gap that Trufant left.
During the game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Terrell recorded an extremely impressive 13 tackles. For any position, 13 tackles is an amazing game, but for a corner to have that many tackles is extremely uncommon.
Tackling is something that is underappreciated in a corner’s skillset. Terrell is truly an exceptional tackler, he is able to use his long frame to take down any ball carrier.