To start off this new series of the top 25 Saints' players I have picked a player that will surely be a topic of debate due to his limited playing time. Isa Abdul-Quddus, the 2011 undrafted free agent out of Fordham University, was initially expected to contribute only on special teams but has proven to be more than adequate in coverage.
Considering how much 2012 starting safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper have struggled (to put it lightly) in coverage, it's my belief that Abdul-Quddus deserves to take a significant amount of playing time from them. It's important to remember, however, that I am constructing this list based on how much of a positive impact I expect players to have. I acknowledge that Abdul-Quddus will likely record less tackles than several members of the defense who are excluded from this list, but I expect his on-field presence to be much more conducive to their success on a per-play basis. Just because he may play fewer snaps it doesn't mean his time on the field will be less meaningful.
While this may not be saying much, Abdul-Quddus is significantly better than both Jenkins and Harper in coverage and there are stats to prove it. Despite playing in considerably less snaps than the aforementioned duo, his numbers coverage numbers do not fall short. See the table below:
|Coverage Snaps||Thrown At||Comp %||Passer Rating||INTs||Passes Def.||PFF Coverage Grade|
(Stats acquired from the Pro Football Focus premium stats.)
Even if you don't agree with how PFF hands out grades, the rest of the numbers put it into perspective. Abdul-Quddus had more combined pass breakups and interceptions than the other two despite dropping into coverage less often. Think back to when he filled in for the injured Jenkins during the last four weeks. Did you see him making a bunch of tackles on his man after giving up a reception? No, because players seldom got open when covered by him. I will admit that Abdul-Quddus needs some work on his tackling and run support, but then again Harper and Jenkins have a tendency to miss tackles as well. Quddus does have the ability to make a big hit, though, just ask Hakeem Nicks.
Am I saying that he deserves to play every snap over one of last year's starters? Not necessarily. However, he has demonstrated the ability to hold up in coverage much better than the other two and should be rewarded with playing time in passing situations as a result. I like Jenkins and I want him to be the great player he has the potential to be. He just hasn't come close to his living up to this potential and has had plenty of time to develop.
So share your thoughts, call me an idiot, or just vote in the poll below. No. 24 on my list will be up soon and will likely be less controversial.