Saints cornerback Paulson Adebo primed to follow up strong rookie effort
The New Orleans Saints were confident enough to entrust rookie Paulson Adebo with 100% of the defensive snaps in last year’s season opener against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
In what turned out to be a 38-3 Saints win, the young cornerback held up just fine. Heading into 2022 and being more comfortable with the defense, Adebo sounds like a seasoned pro already.
“I feel really comfortable here. Just fine tune what I have to do and helping the new guys adjust.”
First year Saints head coach Dennis Allen has also recognized that Adebo is a step quicker and more relaxed this year. The game has slowed down for him.
The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Adebo turns 23 years old on July 3. He possesses the physical attributes that are required to be a top notch cover corner in the NFL. His athleticism features 4.44 speed, a 36.5” vertical and a 10’1 standing long jump.
While at Mansfield High School in Texas, he was recognized as a first team All District performer on both sides of the ball. Adebo played wide receiver and concerback in his final two seasons. In fact, he was a top 100 national recruit who was among the top 10 rated receivers.
Adebo considered a host of schools including LSU, Georgia, Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, TCU, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Oregon, initially pledging to the Fightin’ Irish before ultimately signing with Stanford.
It was when he landed at Palo Alto when he learned about a permanent move to the secondary.
During his redshirt freshman season in 2018, he led the nation with 24 passes defended including four interceptions. He added 64 tackles in his 12 starts, earning All-PAC 12 acclaim.
Adebo totaled eight interceptions in just 22 contests while at Stanford. He felt his experience had prepared him for the next step in his football career.
“We ran pretty in-depth defense at Stanford,” Adebo explained. “That helped me me a lot coming into the NFL, some of the terms were different, but having the coaches at Stanford helped me with the transition.”
Even though Adebo did not play in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, the Saints deemed him worthy of a third round draft selection for the 2021 NFL Draft. He repaid them handsomely, making 17 starts and playing 76% of the defensive plays during his indoctrination to pro football. He recorded eight passes defended and three interceptions.
At the conclusion of the 2021 preseason, Adebo was chosen to play opposite Marshon Lattimore as a starter over six veterans with considerable experience at that position. Right out of the blocks, the rookie was challenged by Rodgers in the season opener and responded appropriately. He snared his first NFL interception and returned it 33 yards as part of a dominant New Orleans defensive effort.
“I still definitely have that ball,” recalled Abedo with a satisfied grin.
The third round pick pilfered two more passes as a rookie, one against Taylor Heincke at Washington and the other versus Matt Ryan at Atlanta. A fourth INT nearly came against the legendary Tom Brady in Tampa. That prime time contest marked the first time in 15 NFL seasons that a Brady-led team was shut out. The 9-0 Saints triumph showed how much the defense has become the Black and Gold identity. Savvy draft picks like Adebo have helped the unit become top tier in the NFL.
“I am much more confident. I know now that I can do it. Every year is different. What you did last year doesn’t really matter. You have to be able to produce on the field this year and take it to another level” noted a level-headed Adebo.
In his formative years, he focused on the elite corners in the league after which he worked to model his game.
“I love Patrick Peterson. I love Richard Sherman. Those are the guys who I watched growing up, watched their highlights.”
Adebo will be sharing the secondary duties this upcoming season with a homegrown, NFL legend who will serve as a mentor to his new teammates. All Decade safety Tyrann Mathieu is akin to a living legend already for younger players like Adebo.
”That is someone who I used to watch when I was in high school, so to be on the same team with him is so great. He has such a depth of knowledge. What you can learn from him is immeasurable. Being able to ask him questions about some of the top corners he has worked with and about what they were able to do, what he has witnessed that works is great.”
A ball hawk with long reach, good ball skills and a receiver’s mindset from his past experiences, Adebo will challenge opponent s. He is a capable corner, comfortable in Cover 3 or man press. The recognition skills keep growing and his burst to react to the ball and routes.
However, his best quality may be his attitude, a good fit in the Saints locker room.
“It’s all about team. Knowing more this season, knowing more this year than just doing my job. Coming in as a rookie, I(was) a lot more locked into what I have to do. Now with experience, I can help others, help them get lined up if I can.”
One of the new arrivals in New Orleans is a second round draftee out of Tennessee, Alontae Taylor, who has already impressed Adebo.
“He’s smart, instinctive, good ball skills,Adebo explained .Some things I teach him, some things he teaches me,” Adebo shared.
The man in Saints jersey No. 29 is becoming a fan favorite.
“Those are the best fans in the league,” Adebo emphasized. “They show love. It’s great playing in the Dome, like nothing else. To have all of those fans each week, we feed off of the energy.”
Both the player and his fans await his NFL encore in 2022.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…