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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
John Sigler

Alontae Taylor ranked among NFL’s best press cornerbacks

There may not be a tougher job in the NFL than running with a receiver in press coverage. The margin for error shrinks to almost nothing, and defensive backs are at a disadvantage by running while being asked to keep their hands on the wideout and tracking the ball in flight — and doing it all while sprinting backwards.

But some corners are better at it than others. And New Orleans Saints nickel Alontae Taylor earned high praise for his skills in press coverage from Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar, who ranked him seventh-best among his peers. Taylor struggled to learn on the job in the slot last season, a role he had never played before, but he responded very well when given the chance to do what he does best.

Here’s why Farrar regards him so highly:

The Saints are another team with a high rate of press coverage — they did so with at least one cornerback on 73% of their snaps last season, third-highest behind the Falcons and Chiefs. Usually, the one cornerback in press was Alontae Taylor, who became a major factor in New Orleans’ defense soon after he was selected in the second round of the 2022 draft out of Tennessee. Last season, Taylor was in press on 150 of his 976 snaps, and he allowed 12 catches on 27 press targets for 5.4 yards per play, three explosive plays, no touchdowns, and one interception.

Taylor did his thing against a lot of top receivers last season, and he was especially effective against Green Bay’s Romeo Doubs, who had the Stat Line from Hell when Taylor was in his face and matching him through routes

What’s next for Taylor? With the Saints unlikely to trade Marshon Lattimore this summer and Kool-Aid McKinstry joining the team, odds are good that Paulson Adebo will continue to start out wide where he beat Taylor last offseason. Expect McKinstry to compete with Taylor for the opportunity to start in the slot, with the loser taking snaps at safety in the team’s dime defense so head coach Dennis Allen can get his four best cornerbacks on the field at the same time. It’s going to create a highly competitive environment at training camp. May the best man win.

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