The expectation for rookie cornerback Isaiah Oliver is to be a day one starter. That expectation is not by the coaching staff, but the fans. This is something that I have been seeing a lot recently on Twitter. Allow me to explain why we should pump the brakes on Oliver’s impact.
It can be difficult to not drool about Oliver’s measurements. Standing at 6’1″, 194-pounds, with tremendous athleticism and all of the tools to be an elite cornerback in the NFL. However, I genuinely believe the Falcons will bring Oliver along slowly as he transitions into a new scheme.
With that new scheme, comes a new technique. “At Colorado, we played a different version of man press technique,” Oliver said. “Here, it’s just a different one, one that I haven’t gotten used to all the way. I haven’t used it prior to being here. In the end, once I’m just as comfortable with the way I was at Colorado, I’ll be using everything the same way.” Oliver said in a statement after practice.
Oliver is essentially saying it himself, he needs time. It is almost impossible to learn something new without making mistakes along the way. If I’m reading between the lines, he’s expressing that he can’t use those techniques that he learned at Colorado until he masters the ones he’s learning as a pro.
One of the Falcons deepest position groups is right there in the secondary with Oliver. With the likes of Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Brian Poole, and the emerging Damontae Kazee, Oliver has a hill to climb. A player like Brian Poole who has earned his role as the starting nickel cornerback won’t just yield his position because Oliver is a fresh face.
Kazee, a second-year player who shined in Friday’s preseason game against the New York Jets has proved he can play multiple positions. It would be more likely that Kazee see’s more snaps at the nickel cornerback position than Oliver. Especially after the Falcons extended starting free safety Ricardo Allen. Currently it appears unlikely that Oliver will become an immediate impact on the Falcons roster.
Ultimately it makes more sense to ease Isaiah Oliver into the new system than to throw him into the fire. Let him get as many preseason snaps as possible and allow him to grow; but, at this point in time, it makes very little sense to start him.
Let’s not be so quick to write off Brian Poole, he has been a very valuable piece to the Falcons defense. He’s earned that position, and similar to Damontae Kazee; I believe the Falcons unleash Isaiah Oliver in year two.