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Paulson Adebo seen as high-upside ‘project’

Adebo landed with the New Orleans Saints in the third-round of the 2021 NFL Draft

NCAA Football: Washington at Stanford Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Stanford Cardinal were represented very well in the 2021 NFL Draft with Walker Little hearing his name first. Former QB Davis Mills happened to go second after just one shortened year as the starter while 2018’s “lock for first-round pick” Paulson Adebo landed in the third round to the New Orleans Saints.

Adebo is absolutely as talented as the entire crop of cornerbacks drafted from the 2021 Draft. And now our friends over at Canal Street Chronicles are dubbing him as a high-upside project.

They did a great job of outlining some of Adebo’s strengths and weaknesses over his career with the Cardinal.

The Good

When Stanford played man coverage, Adebo’s smarts really come into play. He’s good at staying on a receiver’s back hip, and his timing to make plays is impeccable. Indeed, just look at his numbers. Adebo had eight interceptions and 27 passes broken up in just two seasons at Stanford. He’s confident following receivers out of their breaks, and he’s willing to play physical.

Adebo’s build also makes him very trainable. This isn’t the 220-pound Stanley Jean-Baptiste. Adebo has good relative size and speed, and with Marcus Williams helping over the top, Adebo will be able to take the risks in coverage that allowed him to make a name for himself at Stanford.

Especially with how well he’ll fit into the Saints scheme on defense.

The Bad

Because of Stanford’s scheme, it’s difficult to tell how effective will be in Dennis Allen’s variants of zone coverage. The Saints have thrived off of multiple looks the past few seasons, which can be complicated for incoming players to learn. Stanford often had Adebo playing off of receivers when he’s looked better locking them up at the line.

When Adebo gave up completions, they were often curls or switches. If that continues, it could be exploitable in the Saints’ zone variants. No one wants to see the Saints go back to soft zones that got them picked apart in the mid-2010s. Adebo will need a bit of time to fit in on this Saints defense, so the reality is the CB No. 2 spot is wide open.

And in total, there’s reason to believe that we’ll see him on the field quite a bit this fall.

All things told, Adebo is a good, physical corner with great hands and good ability in man coverage. While we won’t know what the Saints have in him until at least the preseason, there are a lot of reasons to be enthusiastic about the pick.

With that being said, look for the Saints to shore up the cornerback position in free agency. Adebo doesn’t really have the makings of a Day 1 starter, but he certainly has the potential to become a strong piece for a Saints defense that desperately needs to figure out its situation opposite Lattimore for the foreseeable future.

We all know the kind of player he is, so this shouldn’t surprise us in the slightest.

Good luck, Paulson!