A handful of soothsaying Falcons fans saw Brian Poole having the kind of rookie success he did, but they were the exception to the rule. For most of us, it was a bit astonishing and extremely welcome to see Poole take over the nickel cornerback gig, run with it, and have a successful rookie season as an undrafted free agent.
His coverage skills were solid and his physicality was welcome, and the fact that he’ll cost virtually nothing for the next little bit works in his favor in a major way. Pro Football Focus argues that his greatest value might have come as a pass rusher, however.
These cornerbacks made the biggest impact as pass rushers in 2016. pic.twitter.com/n0IpQpQsFt— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 20, 2017
The rookie only had one sack, but that’s to be expected when you’re a cornerback. When the Falcons did send him, Poole had a habit of getting into the backfield, something that showed up even when you were watching the games in real time. Considering Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are best in coverage and generally are doing just that, Poole has an opportunity to blitz a bit more often, and he ran with it in 2016. If you want to see his impact show up readily, go back and watch his one sack, five tackle effort against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12.
Poole has a challenger for his role in Damontae Kazee, and Jalen Collins is still going to figure into the picture at cornerback. You’d be unwise to bet against him starting at the nickel again in 2017, however, and the team would be wise to get him more opportunities to chase down opposing quarterbacks when the opportunity presents itself.