How has he (Jamerson) been doing as a corner? “Pretty good. It’s been better the last five days.” - Sean Payton
After visibly improving as a cornerback during his time in training camp, Natrell Jamerson has recently attracted the attention and praise of both Sean Payton and Aaron Glenn, putting the Saints’ 2018 5th round pick squarely on the radar of the media.
Aaron Glenn cuts off a question when he hears Natrell Jamerson’s name: “Look out for him”— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) August 13, 2018
While you will likely read multiple articles about Jamerson in the coming days, none of them will make the correlation between he and former 12th overall pick D.J. Hayden.
My colleague and partner in crime Deuce Windham once told me that coordinators have a legitimate hand in the scouting process as it pertains to what talents fit their scheme, and the selection of Jamerson has Dennis Allen’s signature all over it.
The Saints’ 3rd year defensive coordinator likes to have matchup CBs on the roster. Marshon Lattimore playing the right or weak side CB is capable of banishing a team’s No. 2 WR to the shadow realms, allowing the flexibility to shade your safety to the left or strong side where most team’s No. 1 WRs line up. Lattimore is also the best candidate on the roster to handle the bigger receivers like Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and Devin Funchess that have taken up residence in the NFC South.
What the secondary is currently lacking, however, is a smaller/quicker DB with the ability to match up with shiftier receivers like D.J. Moore, DeSean Jackson, and Calvin Ridley that can play on the boundary as well as move inside to the slot.
The Saints’ current solution to this problem is having a pure boundary corner in Ken Crawley paired with a pure slot corner in Patrick Robinson, but if you could create a Frankenstein DB and combine the two, you would get a player in the mold of Broncos corner Chris Harris - A defender capable of being deployed on the outside in base packages and then kicking inside to cover the slot on passing downs.
Insert Natrell Jamerson.
There were a ton of questions when it was made known that Jamerson would first be looked at as a cornerback after entering the draft as a safety. Upon further inspection, you’ll see that he’s got a lot in common with Hayden in what he offers athletically and as far as traits.
The similarities start with both DBs sharing a 4.40 forty, 10 foot broad jump, and 5’11” height. Both also came out of college with above average tackling ability, Jamerson’s more or less developed from his time playing safety.
The proverbial buck stops there however, as Jamerson begins to separate himself like Michael Thomas on a slant route.
He proves to be a tick faster over the first 10-20 yards, and I’d like to think this speaks to his slightly better vertical jump as he best Hayden in that category (33.5” vs 35.5”). This is important because post draft analyst have mentioned that Hayden’s lack of explosiveness limits his ability to “click and close” on the ball making him appear a step late at times.
Jamerson also has a leg up on Hayden as it pertains to weight, checking in at a solid 201-lbs versus 191-lbs for Hayden. Combined with his 25 reps on the bench, it suggests he should (A) be apt to stay healthier in his career and (B) end up less likely to get bullied in press coverage and at the catch point by bigger receivers.
Natrell Jamerson is ballin today in one-on-ones. Had a one-handed pick covering Floyd and then broke up another one to Smith.— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) August 12, 2018
In other words, the rookie appears to be the 2.0 version of Hayden that only went unnoticed until the 5th round because of a position switch he took on for the better of the team.
Dare I say, plus intangibles?
The most amazing thing about this is the Saints were able to get a Hayden level talent in the 5th round while it cost Allen and the Raiders a 1st round selection. Jamerson not only benefits from not having the weight of being a high selection on his shoulders but he also gets the time necessary to develop due to Crawley and Robinson being established starters in front of him.
It’s still early in his development, but the Saints defense under Allen may have found another diamond in the rough to add to an already potent secondary.