The New Orleans Saints have just acquired former New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple by trade, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Giants have been looking for a trade partner for Apple for quite some time, and have not been pleased with their former 1st round pick.
Saints traded a 4th-round pick in 2019 and a 7th in 2020 for former Giants’ CB Eli Apple, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 23, 2018
The Saints themselves have been looking for a cornerback to anchor the side of their defense opposite Marshon Lattimore. The combination of Ken Crawley and PJ Williams just hadn’t been doing the trick. On Monday, the Saints were reportedly heavily calling the Arizona Cardinals about acquiring All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson, although the Cardinals have repeatedly stated that they won’t be trading him.
Eli Apple has been considered a joke in the NFL by fans, who remember him for his mistakes on the field. His mother, Annie, also draws a lot of attention. Annie has been very outspoken about her son ever since the NFL Draft process started.
— Second Deck Sports (@2nddecksports) October 23, 2018
I believe that we need to take a closer look at the former first round pick, and look for the things we like about him. Surely, there are some positives he brings to this team, right?
Apple’s Professional Career
Eli Apple was the 10th overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, taken from Ohio State. Apple had looked good in college, earning the starting nod as a red-shirt freshman.
Eli Apple was heralded as an elite athlete, but questioned how well he would hold up in coverage without a defensive front destroying the opposition. His coverage stats were limited because he wasn’t thrown at much. He was feared.
Since coming to NFL Ranks, he’s been called “immature” and “a cancer to the team” by teammate Landon Collins, a former Alabama safety, now an All-Pro in the NFL. He was suspended by the Giants for the last game of the 2017 season.
This season, Eli missed two games due to an injury, nothing new in his career. The Giants haven’t had much use for him, so moving him for a little compensation works for them very well.
The Tape doesn’t lie
Eli is very effective as a man cover corner. He knows how to cover a receiver one on one. Check out this one on one videos in training camp last season against Odell Beckham Jr.
Pass breakup Eli Apple on Odell. pic.twitter.com/19RO7tAKN3
— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) August 1, 2017
The Giants scheme doesn’t ask for man coverage very often, instead relying on a zone coverage scheme. Apple often times looks lost in zone coverage. You would think that zone coverage is easier for a defensive back, allowing him to watch the quarterback instead of the receiver.
Sometimes, zone coverage is easier on a defensive back. It requires confidence and an understanding of the offense being played against. If the defensive back is confident in his understanding of the opposing offense, he then can make the correct decisions an trust what he sees on the field around him.
This has to be where Apple isn’t good. He either doesn’t understand opposing offenses well (or isn’t prepared correctly each week) or he isn’t confident in what he sees around him. That’s fixable, with the correct preparation each week.
Is Apple going to work in the Saints scheme?
Here’s what everyone really wants to know. Will Apple work in the scheme?
The Saints do like to put their cornerbacks in man coverage, relying on corners to play on islands often times. Apple will be covering the second receiver every play, the job he had in New York, but a change in scenery might do him some good.
I am intrigued to see what playing with his former teammate, Marshon Lattimore, will do for him. I think reuniting the two players could work wonders in New Orleans for this secondary.