Breaking down the 2023 Atlanta Falcons training camp roster: Cornerbacks

A.J. Terrell might be getting a new long-term running mate at cornerback if someone breaks out in 2023.
Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers
Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

Cornerback is one of the spots that the Atlanta Falcons could use a large improvement from for the 2023 season. A.J. Terrell, Dee Alford, Darren Hall, and Cornell Armstrong all return, and the Falcons have added former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah, former first-round pick Mike Hughes and drafted Clark Phillips in the fourth round to really try to improve the depth and talent of this group. Atlanta has built this unit to take advantage of more man-coverage concepts that new defensive minds Jerry Gray and Ryan Nielsen will be implementing.

A.J. Terrell

Career Stats: 202 Tackles, 7 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hits, 4 Interceptions, 4 Fumbles Forced, 1 Fumble Recovered, 32 Pass Deflections

The best cornerback on the Falcons roster since the day he was drafted has been A.J. Terrell. He's got exceptional athletic ability and played at an All-Pro level in 2021. The Falcons will need him to stay healthy so that he can lock down the top receiver of their opponents all season. Terrell has great ability in both man and zone and should be much more successful than he has been working with new Assistant Head Coach/Defense Jerry Gray.

Terrell should easily be the No. 1 cornerback in Atlanta again this season like he has been his whole career. The Falcons have trusted in him to be that guy his entire career. Running in more man-to-man concepts with Ryan Nielsen taking over as defensive coordinator should help him a lot as well. The Falcons have their top guy for this unit, and hopefully, he can start to turn more of his deflections into interceptions to help create more turnovers in 2023.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Starting outside corner

Jeff Okudah

Career Stats: 124 Tackles, 6 Tackles for Loss, 2 Interceptions, 1 Fumble Forced, 10 Pass Deflections, 1 Defensive Touchdown

Jeff Okudah was the No. 3 overall pick in 2020 when A.J. Terrell was drafted. He's had a much different career though. He's been battling injuries during his entire career. The Atlanta Falcons are trying to see if they can help him resurrect his career while reaping the rewards of having a compadre for Terrell in the secondary. If the Falcons can get the most out of Okudah during the 2023 season, they'll have a good problem on their hands of trying to pay for two really talented corners.

Okudah should see the vast majority of the snaps at corner across from Terrell should he regain the form he had in college that made him the No. 3 overall pick. He has all the physical tools to be fantastic in the scheme that Jerry Gray and Ryan Nielsen will be running. The emphasis on more man coverage should allow Okudah to really come into his own. The biggest question for him will be his health. If he can stay healthy, he could be in for a big year.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for a starting outside cornerback role

Mike Hughes

Career Stats: 178 Tackles, 5 Tackles for Loss, 2 QB Hits, 3 Interceptions, 7 Fumbles Forced, 4 Fumbles Recovered, 20 Pass Deflections, 2 Defensive Touchdowns, 21 Punt Returns, 185 Yards, 0 Touchdowns, 5 Kick Returns, 132 Yards, 0 Touchdowns

Mike Hughes was a first round pick for the Minnesota Vikings back in 2018. His career hasn't exactly been lights out, but with the Falcons betting on potential for a lot of different players, that gave him the opportunity to be here. Atlanta wants to see someone like Hughes in the slot because he has history playing the role and could end up being the starter if he can win in the camp battle. The Falcons really like guys who can play well in man coverage and adding Hughes should help that.

Worst case scenario for Hughes is that he's the No. 4 corner and he ends up being in the mix as a punt return specialist. With Avery Williams going down for the season with an ACL injury, the Falcons have Hughes trying out for the role with the team in 2023. The Falcons could end up getting a steal of a deal for Hughes in that he's only scheduled to make around $3.5 million this year and most starting cornerbacks make much more than that.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for a starting outside cornerback or nickel role

Tre Flowers

Career Stats: 262 Tackles, 3 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hits, 4 Interceptions, 5 Fumbles Forced, 5 Fumbles Recovered, 20 Pass Deflections

Tre Flowers is a huge cornerback who has great speed and could end up being one of the steals of free agency. In 2023, he may not be the primary nickel, but he could very well be used in a hybrid cornerback or safety role that ends up guarding tight ends almost exclusively. He will have to earn that role on the roster, though. He will also likely have to contribute to special teams just to get his spot, because the Falcons need to have people earn their spots on the roster.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for the nickel role, likely special teams and depth

Clark Phillips

Rookie Year

When the Atlanta Falcons selected Clark Phillips with their fourth-round pick, the initial thought was that they were going to use him as the nickel. Long-term, that will probably be his role, but don't be surprised if the 2022 Pac-12 defensive player of the year ends up as a starting outside corner. This season, however, the Falcons need to use him as a depth and special teams player that can develop into a starter. He's going to be good, but as a rookie, he should be more in a learning mode.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for the nickel role, likely special teams and depth

Dee Alford

Career Stats: 25 Tackles, 1 Tackle for Loss, 0.5 Sacks, 1 QB Hit, 1 Interception, 7 Pass Deflections, 1 Safety

If asked, no one would guess that Dee Alford had the best passer rating allowed of all of the Atlanta Falcons corners at just 80.4. He's a great candidate for the Falcons nickel role and could end up being the starter outside across from A.J. Terrell for the long-term. He's deceptively fast and makes plays on the ball regularly. He came up with a key interception on a drive against the Browns to seal the game and could end up being a star in 2023 with Ryan Nielsen and Jerry Gray running the defense.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for the nickel role, likely special teams and depth

Darren Hall

Career Stats: 72 Tackles, 3 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 1 QB Hit, 1 Fumble Forced, 1 Fumble Recovered, 6 Pass Deflections

Darren Hall played a lot of snaps during the 2022 season due to injuries to Casey Hayward and A.J. Terrell. However, his play was lacking as he allowed a 139.7 passer rating against. The Falcons need to get a lot more from Hall in pre-season and training camp to even keep him on the roster with all of the additions they made to the position this offseason. If Hall does make the roster, he'll likely be a guy for depth that is inactive every week or a pure special teams player.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for a depth and special teams role

Cornell Armstrong

Career Stats: 48 Tackles, 7 Pass Deflections

Cornell Armstrong started a lot of games for the Falcons in 2022 as a No. 2 cornerback after the Falcons lost Casey Hayward for the year. He was solid in man-to-man coverages, but he misplayed a lot of balls. He allowed a passer rating against of 97.5, which while not atrocious, is going to have to improve if he wants to keep a spot on the roster. Atlanta has a lot of options, but worst case for Armstrong, he'll be a special teams guy who is practice squad player that gets called up.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for a depth and special teams role

Breon Borders

Career Stats: 42 Tackles, 1 Tackle for Loss, 1 QB Hit, 1 Interception,1 Fumble Recovered, 7 Pass Deflections

Breon Borders is a solid special teams player who has some potential impact as depth at cornerback. He will be suspended the first two games of the year for PEDs, though. And that's going to hurt his chances at making the roster. It's very likely that Borders gets cut before training camp even starts because of his suspension and very limited chances at the roster in the first place. The Falcons would be wise to cut bait early since he doesn't offer much of anything they don't already have.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for a depth and special teams role

Natrone Brooks

Rookie Year

Natrone Brooks was a solid cornerback for Southern Mississippi, but he went undrafted because he posted some atrocious athleticism numbers that are in the bottom 0.4 percentile of any player to enter the NFL at cornerback. Brooks is an intelligent player, but his long-term outlook for the Falcons isn't something to be considered. It's much more likely that Brooks ends up cut during camp cut downs and very unlikely he ends up with a roster spot.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for a depth and special teams role

All advanced stats are courtesy Pro Football Focus or Football Outsiders. All traditional stats are courtesy of official team websites, NFLGSIS or CFB Stats. All RAS and athletic testing numbers are courtesy of and Kent Lee Platte's RAS Football website.