New Orleans Saints: Ken Crawley looks to come full-circle
By Darral Nail
There are a few current New Orleans Saints whose very names seem to rest uneasily in the collective mind of Who Dat Nation. There’s no better example of that than Ken Crawley.
A four-year starter in the PAC-12, the former Colorado Buffalo made his way to the Big Easy as an undrafted free agent in 2016. He catapulted onto the radar of Saints fans by way of a rookie season in which he found himself on the field for more than 500 snaps.
Crawley became something of a fixture in the New Orleans secondary, serving as a starter at cornerback in 23 of the 39 games in which he appeared over his first three NFL seasons.
However, Crawley’s career trajectory in the black and gold would falter in accordance with the emergence of Marshon Lattimore, and additions of the likes of Eli Apple, Patrick Robinson, and Janoris Jenkins.
Irrespective of an unceremonious plunge from the ranks of the regulars on the back-end of the Saints defense, Crawley is a long and speedy outside cornerback who has experience as a starter over multiple seasons in New Orleans.
Furthermore, he has demonstrated an aptitude for the physical aspects required of the position in the Saints’ press-heavy coverage looks, a trend that figures to continue with the addition of defensive backs coach Kris Richard who was the architect of the Seattle Seahawks famed “Legion of Boom defense”.
The New Orleans Saints have a type at the outside cornerback position
While it remains to be seen if Richard will institute elements of the Pete Carroll-derived “step-kick” technique (for pressing at the line of scrimmage) that allowed Richard Sherman and crew to thrive under his charge in Seattle, both Allen and Richard have shown a preference for outside corners that exhibit a certain holy trinity of length, physicality, and quick feet.
While Crawley has shown an undeniable knack for giving up big plays in the passing game, and likewise for establishing good position en-route only to fail to make a play on the ball, his athletic traits and level of experience provide for a solid baseline.
Though preseason hype is not always to be trusted, particularly when it is of the first few days of training camp variety, Crawley’s standout performance thus far in practice should be viewed as a positive for a Saints team that still finds itself somewhat bereft of outside cornerbacks.
Despite the presence of late free agent call-ups Brian Poole and Prince Amukamara, and the exciting potential of incoming rookie Paulson Adebo, nary of the above – at least at this point in their respective careers – bears the appearance of a savior at the position.
To be sure, nor does Crawley, yet one should not be surprised if the now-28-year-old corner finds himself called upon to stand and deliver for the Saints at some point in the 2021 season. Here is to hoping that he is finally up to the challenge.