For the past six years, Desmond Trufant has been the starting left cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons, but that could change with the team looking at every option they have.
Second year cornerback Isaiah Oliver has already been promoted to a starting role this coming season, and so far, the team is giving him every chance to see where he plays best.
Oliver practiced at both right and left cornerback during the team’s voluntary organized team activities drills earlier this offseason, and should again when training camp begins.
“(Assistant coaches) Jerome (Henderson), Doug (Mallory), and the guys have really been putting in time with him staying at the line of scrimmage where exclusively we are playing him outside at the moment, both left side and right,” Falcons head coach Quinn said this offseason.
“Sometimes you want to match so you have to play both sides.”
The Falcons are counting on Oliver to take a big step forward in his second NFL season after they elected to release veteran cornerback Robert Alford this year.
Alford was featured as the right cornerback, theoretically the position that Oliver would inherit, but the Falcons are interested in moving their defensive backs around a little more.
So far, Oliver has been taking to both positions very well.
“What I’ve seen from him is his patience at the line of scrimmage,” Quinn said. “All of this length that he has, he’s really on it in that space.”
A second round pick from Colorado by the Falcons last spring, Oliver appeared in 14 games last season as a rookie, starting two, grabbing 23 tackles and intercepting one pass.
That production came despite Oliver playing only 22.07 percent of defensive snaps, and playing in a majority of just two games, a loss to the Bengals and a win at the Redskins.
Atlanta drafted Oliver with designs on likely starting him at some point in the future.
The son of a former Oregon cornerback and elite decathlete and himself a former three star recruit according to the 247Sports Composite, Oliver appeared in all 13 games for Colorado as a true freshman, racking up 19 tackles and six pass breakups in three starts.
Oliver finished his collegiate career with 27 tackles, two picks, and 13 pass defenses.
He came into the NFL with the athletic pedigree and what scouts called a distinct level of maturity, and now the Falcons hope he can develop those traits in a more prominent position.
“He’s always been a really mature guy,” Quinn said. “Now he’s added the technique with the sense of maturity.”