Alontae Taylor has been tasked with far more challenges than anyone probably expected.
Taylor was the New Orleans Saints’ third-round draft pick this year. Even with an impressive career in Tennessee, Taylor was entering a defensive back room with overwhelming talent. With a multitude of experienced safeties and cornerbacks already on the roster, Taylor was brought in to add some background support.
Then the season started. Our players started dropping like flies or were given a Philadelphia Eagles jersey.
CB1 Marshon Lattimore went down in Week five, followed by Bradley Roby in Week seven. Paulson Adebo started the season hurt, but he has been mediocre at best since his return.
Typically, throwing a third-round rookie into a vital starting role is not ideal. But in most situations, Taylor has been exactly what Dennis Allen needed him to be - dependable and aggressive. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been a bright spot.
Against Las Vegas on Oct. 30, Taylor may have been the most critical piece of the shutout. He deflected three passes and held Devonte Adams to just one catch for three yards. Those are elite statistics.
Even in the Saints’ loss against Baltimore, Taylor posted another impressive stat line. In 26 coverage snaps, he was targeted eight times and only three receptions were allowed for 36 total yards. This was the second week in a row where he handled business.
Alontae Taylor with an impressive PBU on DeSean Jackson pic.twitter.com/9IILcIa5Bx— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) November 8, 2022
He struggled a bit more against Pittsburgh rookie sensation George Pickens on Sunday. Even though Pickens won a fair share of their battles, Taylor played him tight. He also recorded a career-high six tackles that game. This game was a reminder that Taylor is still just a rookie, and one with plenty of improvement.
Taylor has been able to stay away from penalties this year, but it was definitely a problem against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had three penalties in coverage, a common sign that a DB is just flat-out being beaten.
Plays like this one below were the story of the game - Pickens barely edging out a close-by Taylor.
The rookie matchup of the day is off to a fun start with Steelers WR George Pickens picking up a first down against Saints CB Alontae Taylor (with a nice throw from Kenny Pickett).— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) November 13, 2022
Pickens and Taylor have been two of the best rookies at their positions this season. pic.twitter.com/kRLb9M3XNb
There’s no doubt that Taylor has a role in the future of this franchise. He’s been asked to step up in a big way. And for the most part, he’s delivered.
Quite frankly, a Lattimore-Taylor duo in a couple of years could be one of the best corner combinations in the league. But is Taylor a lockdown corner as of today? I think he’s very close, but he’s undoubtedly established himself as one of the best defensive backs in the 2022 draft as a third-round pick.
The future is bright for Alontae Taylor.
Alontae Taylor through 4 games:— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) November 10, 2022
• 116 coverage snaps
• 24 targets
• 8 receptions allowed (87 yards)
• 5 PD
• 0 TD allowed
The Saints found themselves a STUD in their rookie CB pic.twitter.com/rPoCjhrxN6