It was unfortunate news to hear that New Orleans Saints cornerback Ken Crawley sustained an injury during the second week of preseason play, because that injury came during a game in which he was showing out.
But the good news is that Nick Underhill reported that it should only keep him out a couple of weeks.
Ken Crawley missed practice. He got hurt in the game and source says he’s going to be out a couple of weeks.— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) August 24, 2021
This is huge because the play he put on tape in this game is exactly the kind of play the Saints are looking for in a #2 corner across from Marshon Lattimore, meaning he could possibly be that guy once he comes back from injury.
And before you roll your eyes at this analysis coming from a preseason game, hear me out.
It may have been an exhibition game, but Crawley was doing work against starting receivers. Plus, it was his second good game in a row.
In 17 coverage snaps, he gave up a whole zero yards and zero catches on two targets, while also breaking up a pass.
He put his speed and prototypical size on display on two plays in particular that stood out.
On a third-and-long play here in the first quarter, the Saints were in a Cover 1 Man look, with five rushers. So Crawley is manned up at the top of the screen with Laviska Shenault Jr., who is a starter for the Jags.
He has inside leverage on Shenault and forces him to push up against the boundary, already making it a tight window to throw into. And he has the speed to stick with him downfield.
But more importantly, and this one will always hit home with Saints fans, he didn’t commit pass interference. This was a sound example of how to guard a fade route.
The other play I wanted to highlight came in the second quarter against Phillip Dorsett.
He’s got Dorsett one on one on this deep corner/banana route off of play action. He does a fantastic job of staying in his hip pocket on the out-break and staying under him without bumping him too much as he runs toward the end zone.
And more importantly, he times his jump perfectly to prevent the big play with a PBU.
None of this matters if he can’t replicate it in the regular season, but it’s good to see a guy show what he’s capable of in playing his role well, like he did in 2017.
Crawley gets a bad wrap sometimes, and deservedly so in most respects, but he was a legitimately good and valuable corner in 2017. In the ‘17 regular season, he only allowed a 50% catch rate (44 of 88 targets) and broke up 13 passes (T-8th most in the league via PFF).
He was targeted an ungodly amount of times and held his own for an entire season. Now, he wasn’t able to perform like that consistently over the next couple of years, but as a stop-gap solution for a guy who’s highly motivated to come in and play well, I think he deserves serious consideration.
At the very least, you hope he can come in and man that #2 corner spot until third-rounder Paulson Adebo earns his stripes.
The main thing with Crawley is just going to be the penalties. In ‘17, he committed ten of them, which was the 6th-most among corners. And he committed another four in the playoffs.
So, Crawley obviously isn’t a sure thing to come in and be successful, but given the Saints’ depth concerns at the position, he’s arguably the best present option.
And while it’s a bit of a gamble, I think the 28-year-old has a decent shot to be a pleasant surprise to some people once he gets back healthy.
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