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Reviewing Brian Poole’s stellar 2016 season for signs of things to come

A look at one of the Falcons’ biggest surprises.

NFC Championship - Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Many of you liked Brian Poole coming out of Florida. Several of you even stumped for him to make the final 53 man roster. None of you, I’d wager, foresaw the 2016 season that Poole ultimately put together.

The undrafted free agent cornerback wound up being the team’s nickel cornerback for most of the year, and aside from a few hiccups here and there, proved to be a reliable, physical option for Dan Quinn’s defense. There’s absolutely no question he’ll reprise that role in 2017, and he may be even better with a year under his belt.

To get a better sense of what Poole brought to the table last year—and may bring to the table this year—Allen Strk broke down some film. You can see his breakdown below, with some notes from me (Dave) in the margins.

Michael Thomas is not an easy man to contain. The play you see above illustrates how effective Poole is at tracking his man, even though he’s not necessarily the fastest or most agile cornerback on the field for Atlanta.

Here it is again. You simply do not see many first year cornerbacks who can diagnose a play this effectively, much less stop it. To see a UDFA rookie do it? Crazy.

Pfft. Look at him close on the ball. That’s magic.

This is one of Poole’s true strengths, and it’s one that Quinn and company insist upon after presumably watching Falcons cornerbacks miss easy tackles for years. Poole is physical enough and willing enough to make tackles like these with no help.

As good as Poole is, of course, he does make mistakes. Corners who aren’t elite athletes have to rely on their instincts, as Allen notes, and here we see an example of Poole’s instincts leading him a bit astray.


To be fair to Poole, Snead is good at disentangling himself from garbage near the line of scrimmage. He’s also good at getting murdered by Keanu Neal, but that’s neither here nor there.

Reasonably fast, very physical.

That hit is a lot of fun. You have to admire Wilson on this play.

Poole was quietly one of the best blitzing corners in the entire NFL last year, and the Falcons will probably utilize him in that fashion more often in 2017. Here he is flashing that ability.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Poole build on his 2016 season. We’ve barely talked about him this offseason because we know he’s assured of a role and there are bigger names to discuss, but he’ll once again be a pivotal, physical presence for Atlanta.