One of the more underrated defenders in the entire NFL Draft.
For 11 seasons, former NFL cornerback Asante Samuel made a living as an opportunistic corner who baited opposing quarterbacks into turnovers. Was his overall style a little unorthodox? An argument can be made for that, but the respect level for Samuel was widespread and genuine, including during his time as an Atlanta Falcon.
Now Samuel will soon watch his son roam the same fields and harass opposing receivers. Former Florida State corner Asante Samuel Jr. is one of the top cornerbacks in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, and the Atlanta Falcons have shown considerable interest in his services. Today, let’s break down his talent and what he can possible provide to the Falcons secondary.
Asante Samuel Jr. Scouting Report
Weight: 185 pounds
Career stats: 97 career tackles, three tackles for loss, 29 pass deflections, four interceptions
Games watched: 2019 vs. Boise State, 2019 vs. Clemson, 2019 vs. Wake Forest, 2020 vs. North Carolina, 2020 vs. Georgia Tech
If you enjoy scrappy corners that will get in your grill, Samuel Jr. is your guy. The 2020 first team All-ACC member led the Seminoles defense in interceptions and pass breakups this past season on his way to the best season of his collegiate career. Samuel Jr. seems “smallish” on film but with his experience and skill, he is more than capable of playing on the boundary against bigger receivers.
He displays a very natural and fluid backpedal, which is part of his outstanding footwork. The gritty corner reacts swiftly to routes when in off-man coverage and displays a quick closing burst. Samuel Jr. has very polished instincts and when it comes to processing the game, his abilities are not in quesetion. Those instincts of his often lead to his excellent ball skills being on display, as well.
Despite his size, Samuel competes well and will compete for four quarters. In run defense, Samuel will be assertive, which is what you ask for in a defender of his stature. He’s a solid, all around tackler and takes the necessary angles when it comes to closing in on the ball carrier.
You appreciate the physicality that Samuel Jr. shows, but at times, he is too physical. Samuel Jr. has a tendency of being a little grabby at times. He played a considerable amount of man coverage while at Florida State.
While there is a general belief that he can strive in zone coverage, that does remain a question of how truly effective he can be. Samuel Jr. has room to improve as a tackler and improvement in play strength needs to be seen to aid that improvement. Scouts have also question whether or not Samuel Jr. can win at the catch point consistently at the next level.
In what is a deep, very skillful group of cornerbacks, Samuel Jr. has established himself as one of the best in class. The questions regarding his size has been hanging over his head during his time at Florida State, yet he has been one of the best defenders in the ACC over the last few seasons.
There are a number of similarities between Samuel Jr. and his father, who of course was a former Falcon himself. Currently, Samuel Jr. has a late 1st-mid 2nd round grade and his addition to the Falcons defense will insert an uber-confident corner with the skill set to match.
Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees has had a number of smaller corners in his scheme that has played on the boundary and have held their own there. From Malcolm Butler to Adoree Jackson to Tavon Young to Ellis Hobbs to Asante Samuel himself. So yes, the respected defensive play caller knows what to do with those kind of corners on the outside.
Samuel Jr. is a level of dog in him that the Falcons defense have missed over the years, and he’s a competitor that take on whatever challenge in front of him and often excel. The Falcons have shown interest this offseason and if they so happen to nab Samuel Jr and make him part of this defense, the Atlanta defense will benefit greatly.