Arthur Smith praises A.J. Terrell: ‘He makes an impact on every game’

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Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell is living proof that you don’t need a top-10 pick to land one of the very best players in the draft. Terrell was the third cornerback taken in 2020 but has been the best corner in his draft class thus far. The former Clemson standout earned the praise of head coach Arthur Smith at Monday’s press conference.

“He’s been solid,” said Smith. “He makes an impact on every game when he’s out there. He continues to improve, he had some chances to pick the ball off and I think next time he probably will. But, he’s playing pretty solid football.”

Against New Orleans, Terrell was targeted five times and only allowed two completions for 19 yards. One of those completions — a five-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Callaway — was the first touchdown Terrell has allowed all season.

Additionally, Terrell has played mistake-free football for a majority of the season. He’s riding a three-game streak without a penalty called against him, which is exceptionally impressive when looking at his reception rate of 46.4. You have to be very disciplined to not draw fouls while also playing close defense.

Smith was asked if he believed Terrell was on track to becoming one of the elite players at the position.

“Well I think he’s a good football player, but it’s an ongoing process,” said Smith. “He could probably tell you he can still play better. He’s done a nice job but he can continue to get better for us.”

According to Pro Football Focus, Terrell’s 83.8 coverage grade is only second to Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Here’s a look at where Terrell ranks in some notable categories.

  • 5th: PBUs

  • 5th: Passer rating allowed

  • 3rd: Forced incompletions

  • 2nd: Reception percentage

  • 2nd overall coverage grade

  • 1st in yards allowed

  • 1st in yards per reception allowed

Given the stigma surrounding the Falcons’ defense, guys like Terrell and defensive lineman Grady Jarrett are generally overlooked outside of Atlanta. The more the team wins, the more people will start paying attention.

At 4-4, the Falcons are currently in the NFC’s seventh seed entering their Week 10 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.

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