What do the new additions bring to the New Orleans Saints’ roster?
By Darral Nail
Cornerback and wide receiver were listed among the top needs for the New Orleans Saints this offseason in the lead-up to the 2021 NFL Draft.
Though the team added a cornerback in the top half of the draft in the form of former Stanford Cardinal Paulson Adebo, the position remained far from settled.
Similarly, with the Saints’ receiver group, a single seventh-round draft pick was added (South Alabama’s Kawaan Baker) with the team seemingly intent to give it a go with the pass catchers on hand.
While adding a veteran corner was thought to be in the works, the recent news regarding Michael Thomas’ early-season availability saw to it that New Orleans would be in the market for help at the receiver position as well.
On the eve of training camp’s arrival, General Manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton added reinforcements at both positions in short order.
What the addition of Brian Poole means for the New Orleans Saints
One of the top national cornerback prospects in 2011’s prep recruiting class, Poole went undrafted despite a productive collegiate career as a Florida Gator. Upon making his way to the NFL’s big stage, Poole wasted no time establishing himself as a regular contributor and spot-starter for NFC South rival Atlanta.
Moving on to the New York Jets, Poole’s play was quite stellar, with PFF grading numbers that were consistently among the league’s best.
Though used more often in a nickel capacity through his professional career, the 5’11” Poole appeared to graze the length threshold for play on the outside. Thickly built and physical at the point of attack, Poole could be in line to make a move to the boundary in Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen’s man-heavy scheme. Even if he proves best suited for work inside, Poole could offer a great deal of value as a slot defender and/or versatile strong safety.
What the addition of Chris Hogan means for the New Orleans Saints
Hogan, who played lacrosse at Penn State before transferring to Monmouth for a single season of college football, first appeared on the radar in 2013 as a Buffalo Bill, despite being eligible in the 2011 NFL Draft and having spent time with three league teams before catching on in Buffalo.
Hogan’s 41 catches during the 2014 season served as his proper introduction to many, and he could have been considered on a path to semi-stardom with the New England Patriots before sustaining a mid-season injury in a 2017 campaign that was shaping up to be his breakout.
After returning to the field by way of a single relatively uneventful season in Carolina and another alongside Poole in New York, Hogan could represent quite a value if able to approach the level of play he became known for in New England.
Though his highest production came primarily from the slot in the Tom Brady-led Pats offense, he has proven capable of producing from a wide alignment. At 6’1”, 210 pounds, with a lacrosse player’s mindset and the upper body strength to defeat jamming defenders and clear his pads in close quarters, the Saints’ newest receiver could represent a welcome sight for whichever quarterback is pulling the trigger in New Orleans.
If Michael Thomas’ true strength lies in his ability to get open, there is evidence to suggest that Hogan could provide at least a reasonable facsimile in Thomas’ absence.