The Falcons should consider a reunion with Brian Poole

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The Falcons letting Brian Poole leave in free agency a couple of years ago has turned out, in hindsight, to be a regretful decision. He went on to sign a one-year $3,000,000 contract in 2019 with the New York Jets, where he absolutely balled out. The team felt the need to increase his salary a couple of million to keep him in New York and gave him another one-year deal worth $5,000,000. He struggled in 2020 due to injuries, only appearing in nine games. But he was still an above-average nickel corner in a “down year” after being one of the leagues’ best in 2019.

Strengths

Poole has been the epitome of consistency at one of the most undervalued positions in the league — slot corner. Even in a down year, he posted one of the best grades of any cornerback, 77.1 — according to PFF. He is equally impressive defending the run as he is the pass, covers like a corner but hits like a safety.

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Poole is instinctive and rarely asked to do something he is incapable of. He can do everything asked of him from the slot, zone or man, defend the run, or rush the passer. Poole really is a jack of all trades, and I have no idea why the Falcons let him go for pennies.

Weaknesses

Although he is a hard-nosed tackler, sometimes he comes in with reckless abandonment and misses the runner. Aggression sometimes hurts certain players; controlled aggression should be the goal. That aggression sometimes becomes a problem on play-action too, but it isn’t that common. Poole also doesn’t thrive with straight end speed receivers as he is better in short-area quickness

Team Fit

Poole played under Greg Williams the past two seasons in one of the most aggressive defenses in the NFL. A defensive scheme based on disguising coverages and blitzes by having all three levels of defenders moving pre-snap. Poole thrived in this system, requiring him to not only defend the pass and run but also blitz from the slot. Dean Pees runs a similar style of defense where Poole could be tasked with the same responsibilities. At such an undervalued position, the Falcons might get a hometown sweetheart deal as the Jets’ Robert Saleh runs more of a 4-3 that Poole may not be as successful in.

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