College free agent signing Brian Poole has been a constant presence in Atlanta's secondary this year, and given how strong his ball and coverage skills have been thus far, Pro Football Focus named him one of the NFL's top 10 rookies heading into Week 5.
"Brian Poole was an afterthought a season ago in the Florida secondary that featured first-round picks Vernon Hargreaves III and Keanu Neal, along with possible future first-rounders in Marcus Maye, Jalen Tabor, and Quincy Wilson," PFF's Michael Renner said.
"Poole actually has a bigger role with the Falcons than he did with the Gators in 2015, and he's making the most of it. His 0.91 yards per coverage snap mark is 21st among corners in the league, and the best of any rookie full-time starter."
Poole made a number of big plays against Carolina, including one in the final minute of the second quarter: Asked to play man coverage in the slot, he trailed Philly Brown deep downfield and broke up a pass that, if completed, would have put Carolina in field goal range.
Instead, Carolina ended up on fourth down in their own territory and elected to punt. And the Falcons took a seven-point lead into halftime.
In hindsight, this was a huge play by Brian Poole at the end of the first half with the Falcons up 17-10. Carolina punted on the next snap. pic.twitter.com/2iX11kuCEM — Andrew Hirsh (@andrewhirsh) October 3, 2016
"We played a little bit more man-to-man in this game," head coach Dan Quinn said. "When we play our man to man we expect those guys to stand up and (Poole) was certainly one that did. I thought Marquand Manuel had the right matchups of how we wanted to play the game but they had some plays, too."