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Saints Film Room: Paulson Adebo’s strengths and weaknesses

Looking at the tape to see what type of player the Saints got with the third-round corner Paulson Adebo

NCAA Football: Washington State at Stanford Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints third-round pick Paulson Adebo seems to be the consensus favorite pick by Saints fans from the 2021 NFL Draft.

The cornerback out of Stanford has quite the highlight tape, as he put up some gaudy numbers in coverage in college, which makes him easier to appreciate from a fan’s perspective.

Before opting out of the 2020 season, he picked off a whopping eight passes and broke up 24 balls in the previous two seasons. And he led the country in 2018 with 19 PBUs.

With that, comes the expectation that this ball production will just automatically transfer over to the league. But we all know more goes into coverage than just the stat sheet. So with this piece, we’ll be looking at some of Adebo’s strengths and weaknesses in coverage, as told by the tape.


First off, the kid simply does have ball skills for days. Adebo is one of the few corners who could probably play receiver if he really wanted to because he is a magnet to the football.

He’s so good at playing the ball that he only got called for four penalties total in those two seasons, despite being targeted 129 times.

One of his best games came against Oregon, where he broke up four passes on nine targets, and came up huge at the end of the game.

He can be physical at the point of attack without getting too handsy.

And he can break on passes beautifully from outside leverage.

The latter is what makes him such an intriguing option for zone-heavy defenses. His instincts, ball skills and quickness out of breaks makes him a menace to quarterbacks trying to anticipate throws into tight windows.

And despite many critics questioning his fluidity in man coverage, he placed in the 91st percentile in the three-cone drill, with a nice 6.69 second time.

My main critique would be just how jumpy he can be on double moves.

Adebo has been kind of boom or bust and gave up catches of 20-plus yards in five straight games back in 2019 — one of which is shown below:

It seems like he’s much more effective in press-zone schemes and not so much in a true man principle defense. In zone, you’ve almost always got some type of leverage that you can give up to the receiver where you can sit on certain routes and angles. But when he was solely responsible for a guy 1-on-1, he just gambled a little too much at times and allowed some big plays.

His surprisingly good three-cone drill would suggest that he’s got some good hip fluidity, but there were times on tape where it seemed like he was just turning a bit slowly and got stacked on some vertical routes. Having good safety support behind him will be very important if he’s to play early on in his career.

He’s going to have to improve his anticipation and perhaps dial back the aggressiveness at times, if he doesn’t want to get burnt too much in the league. But that is a coachable teaching point.

At the end of the day, Adebo is just a flat out playmaker. Yes, he’s got some flaws, but the talent is there.

It will just be a matter of Dennis Allen and the defensive coaching staff not only developing him, but putting him in positions and coverages that accentuate his ball-hawking skillset.

With the talent level of the Saints safeties — Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins providing help over the top and consistently having their corners’ backs deep — this could potentially be a hand-in-glove fit for Adebo.

If he’s able to play freely and aggressively without the fear of getting beaten deep on double moves because of his confidence in his safeties, look out. The results could be similar to what he did at Stanford.


What do you think of Paulson Adebo? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @AndrewBell_98.