New York Jets: Ranking the 53-man roster — No. 7 Brian Poole

After another lost New York Jets season, it’s time to evaluate this 53-man roster. This daily ranking continues with No. 7, cornerback Brian Poole.

No one knew what to expect when former New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan signed free agent Atlanta Falcons nickel cornerback Brian Poole to replace Buster Skrine, on a one-year $3.5 million deal.

The 27-year-old undrafted out of Florida played in all 16 games of his first three pro season in Atlanta red and black and proved versatile enough to get reps at safety and linebacker.

After Gang Green’s implosion at cornerback (see Trumaine Johnson, Darryl Roberts), Poole got thrust into starter duties for 10 of 14 games (missing two with a late-season concussion).

Poole excelled in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ blitz-heavy physical schemes, particularly in zone coverage as more of a third safety. He was the best cornerback on this team this year.

Adam Gase respects Poole’s play and had the following to say about the veteran defensive back earlier in the year.

“To me, he’s rare in the aspect of he’s physical as a tackler, he’s done a really good job in the zone defense, and he’s gotten a lot better in the man-coverage stuff— that was one of the things he was really focused on getting better at. His attitude and his aggressiveness, I think it’s rare for a DB. You don’t see many guys that like contact like he likes. He’s just been one of those guys that comes to work every day and finds a way to get better. He’s one of those guys that our other defensive guys really  like, he’s tight with that group. He’s one of those guys that really stands out. That’s a tight-knit group in that DB room.”

Poole proved a lethal contributor, on-field for 75 percent of the team’s defensive snaps on all but two occasions (68 percent of total snaps). You may recall a few of Poole’s fourth-down stuffs among his 47 solo tackles (58 combined), four tackles for loss, and five QB hits.

There are 64 starting cornerbacks in this league, 96  including slots corners. Poole’s outstanding 79.0 Pro Football Focus rating ranks him in the top 50 overall. In early October, his stats ranked No. 1 in the NFL.

General manager Joe Douglas better move fast to lock-up this unrestricted free agent (one of 22 on this roster). Poole, who will get much attention when the market opens, has earned a substantial raise.

Next: New York Jets: 3 low-profile players who could be cap casualties

The New York Jets still need to import elite level cornerbacks via the draft or free agency. But now at least there’s a solid base to build around, between Blessuan Austin, Arthur Maulet, maybe Maurice Canady, and Brian Poole.

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