He doesn’t have elite cornerback speed but exhibits good recovery speed and is able to stay step for step with receivers on the outside.
Terrell's wingspan helps him jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and slightly move them off their routes.
Terrell’s agility, fluid hips, and technique enable him to consistently follow tightly near receivers anywhere down or across the field.
When receivers get past Terrell's press coverage, he is able to recover immediately and get back into a position to disrupt the receiver.
On any given play, Terrell is able to read and react very quickly and diagnose plays before they happen. This is especially true on runs and screens where Terrell is able to get into the backfield fast in order to disrupt the run.
He is a good run stopper/disrupter with great tackling technique but sometimes fails to bring down stronger ball carriers.
AJ is a bump and run corner who sticks with his receiver tightly throughout a route. Even if he has to hold up with a WR for long periods of time, he has the coverage skills necessary to keep up with receivers on the outside or in the slot.
Terrell has impeccable zone spacing and awareness in zone coverage. He is very cognizant of the line of scrimmage on zone plays and will play conservatively in order to prevent the first down.
Terrell is smart when he goes about baiting a QB, however his conservative playstyle will limit the number of turnovers he accumulates at the next level.
No significant injuries.
High football IQ and impeccable football awareness.
For 37 straight games, Terrell was able to clamp up opposing wideouts and limit them to less than 60+ receiving yards.
AJ Terrell is one of the most underrated cornerbacks in this year’s draft class. He’s a stereotypical Clemson defender who is extremely talented, extremely disciplined, and extremely diligent. Regardless of where he’s drafted in April, Terrell should fit his defensive coordinator's scheme because he excels in both zone and man coverage.
Terrell’s agility, fluid hips, and technique enable him to consistently follow tightly near receivers anywhere down or across the field. Even if he has to hold up with a WR for long periods of time, he has the coverage skills necessary to keep up with receivers on the outside or in the slot. He has great press coverage skills and the recovery speed necessary to stay step for step with any receiver on the outside.
One of the best aspects about Terrell is his awareness/IQ. On any given play, Terrell is able to read and react very quickly and diagnose plays before they happen. This is especially true on runs and screens where Terrell is able to get into the backfield fast in order to disrupt the run.
Terrell’s tendency to grab receivers throughout most routes could lead to an abundance of pass interference calls if he doesn’t refine his technique at the next level. As it pertains to the next level, Terrell will also need to bulk up in strength to do a better job fending off blocks in the NFL.
The biggest red flag against AJ Terrell concerns his performance against LSU in the national championship. According to Pro Football Focus, Terrell hadn’t given up 60+ receiving yards to a wide receiver throughout his career at Clemson until he went against Jamar Chase and Joe Burrow. In fact, Terrell surrendered over 140 yards to Chase during the championship game.
While this game is something NFL scouts will definitely take note of, it’s important to remember that Burrow and Chase burned most first-round caliber corners like Travon Diggs. Therefore, this game needs to be put in perspective and not cause Terrell to tumble too far down the NFL draft.
As good as Clemson’s defense has been this decade, A.J. Terrell has the potential to be the best cornerback to be drafted in the NFL this century (maybe further back). Throughout his career at Clemson, Terrell has been a lockdown cornerback, who has exhibited consistent production since his freshman year. Terrell is the most underrated cornerback in this year’s draft class, and might even be the most underrated player. While he doesn’t have flashy speed or daunting physique, he is a versatile cornerback who has been coached well by the genius defensive coordinator, Brent Venables. As a result, he excelled during the regular season and postseason and was named to the All-ACC first team in 2019.
The San Francisco 49ers would be a great place for AJ Terrell to land due to their current need at the cornerback position. Considering that they will have a late first-round pick, they should be in a position to draft Terrell, who would excel in San Francisco’s man heavy system. Speaking of Sherman, AJ Terrell’s playing style is most similar to Richard Sherman because they are both versatile cornerbacks who excel in both man and zone coverage. Despite lacking elite speed, Sherman and Terrell can keep up with most wide receivers on the outside because of their agility, IQ, and bum and run playing style. This comparison doesn’t mean that Terrell will be as successful as Sherman was, but it indicates that an excellent defensive coordinator could mold him into a stellar defensive back. Plus, Terrell’s adjustment to the NFL would be smoother if he were selected by the Niners due to their stellar pass rush.