Since the New Orleans Saints lost Janoris Jenkins to start the 2021 offseason, the team has looked at the cornerback spot opposite Marshon Lattimore as a spot that needs to be filled. Often and consistently referring to it as a “must” even as recent as this week.
Since the Janoris Jenkins departure the Saints drafted Stanford’s Paulson Adebo in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft and signed UDFAs Bryce Thompson from Tennessee and Lawrence Woods from Trumate State. They also brought back Ken Crawley in free agency and have added veteran corners Brian Poole, Prince Amukamara, and Adonis Alexander among other offseason additions.
However, Thompson has played majority at safety in camp and Woods was waived in the first week. To add to the thinning of this position, the Saints also lost second-year corner Keith Washington due to injury and 11-year veteran, and assumed starter, Patrick Robinson retired this week. A decision that is always made at the right time if the time is right for the player.
While it’s easy to look at the complicated nature of filling this position the Saints have endured thus far, it’s also worth considering those on the roster who are now in position to take advantage of new opportunity.
New Orleans still considers cornerback a position that must be addressed before the season. But even with a new player in the mix, considering Marshon Lattimore is potentially facing a suspension, there are unique opportunities for young corners presently on the Saints roster to step into a larger role.
One of those corners has impressed in camp and could be setting himself up for the chance to make his presence felt immediately.
Very likely my favorite cornerback prospect throughout the 2021 draft cycle, Adebo has remarkable ball skills, prototypical size (6-foot-1, 192 pounds), and has been catching on perhaps quicker than expected throughout camp. The question will be whether or not his exemplary practice displays will translate to the full-speed action on the field. All told, upcoming preseason games may be invaluable for the young cornerback.
Adebo’s biggest question mark coming into the NFL throughout the draft gauntlet had to down hip fluidity and transitions. Technical piece of the game to address. Though the Saints did lose long-time secondary coach Aaron Glenn this offseason, they replaced him with a star in Kris Richard.
The mechanics and technical work that needs to be done for any defensive back are in good hands. It’s the intangibles that are left and Adebo doesn’t lack for the most important ones like confidence and football IQ. Both of which New Orleans values greatly.
Football IQ from Stanford CB Paulson Adebo here (bottom). 3rd and 7 w/ inside leverage at the snap, expecting an out-breaker just beyond the sticks. Opens and angles to stay upfield until the route declares, then explodes to catch point. Good play on ball (ex WR recruit). pic.twitter.com/6NKDZVB7ME— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) February 4, 2021
Adebo now has a prime shot to have an immediate impact on the New Orleans Saints, much like his teammate Marshon Lattimore did when drafted in 2017. Certainly the expectations are different for a third-round pick than a near top-ten selection. But the opportunity is similar.
Adebo piled on an impressive eight interceptions and 27 passes defended in his 22 career games with the Stanford Cardinals. His 2019 season was cut short with an ankle injury and he opted out of the 2020 season, hence the drop in his draft stock.
After the 2018 year, the receiver-turned-corner was widely considered a first-round prospect. He’d then go on to struggle in a pair of high-profile games, most notably against UCF, and then didn’t have the chance to answer lingering questions in 2020. Despite all of that, he impressed enough in his pre-draft process to be lumped into a figurative third tier along with Georgia’s Eric Stokes when it came to the Saints’ draft grades.
Now, Adebo has been showing out on Airline Drive with interceptions in team and one-on-one drills. He’s been noticeably physical and competitive, and I can say with my own eyes that he stands out among the rest of the unit because of his towering stature.
Adebo has the opportunity, the Saints are looking for answers, can the talent and preparation meet the need? Even if another corner is acquired by New Orleans who are said to be exploring potential trade targets, the 76th overall selection in this year’s draft could find his way to be an immediate contributor for the defense.
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