PROSPECT SUMMARY - ASANTE SAMUEL JR.
The son of four-time NFL Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel, Asante Samuel Jr. enters the NFL after a strong career in the ACC on a struggling Seminoles defense. Samuel Jr. is a touch undersized, but he is outstanding in man coverage where his natural pattern matching instincts, loose hips, and quick feet make him tough to separate from. Despite not having ideal size, Samuel Jr. is a competitive run defender and tackler that gets his work done and isn’t a liability. While his frame may suggest to some that he’s slot only in the NFL, he’s in the mold of a Brandon Flowers/Denzel Ward and fully capable of playing wide in the NFL like he did in college—although he does have some experience in the slot. Where Samuel Jr. has room to grow is in his zone coverage reps and ball skills. He played mostly man coverage in college and he isn’t nearly as comfortable in zone reps. From a ball skills perspective, he isn’t consistent finding the ball in the air and getting his head around, creating issues when challenged with his back to the line of scrimmage. Samuel Jr. has the potential to start at the next level for a defense that plays a lot of man coverage and is willing to move him around to maximize his strengths.
Ideal Role: Starting outside cornerback that can also play in the slot in a defense that features plenty of man coverage.
Scheme Fit: Man-heavy defensive scheme.
Written by Joe Marino
Games watched: Boise State (2019), Wake Forest (2019), Clemson (2019), Florida (2019), Georgia Tech (2020), Miami (2020), Notre Dame (2020).
Best Game Studied: Georgia Tech (2020)
Worst Game Studied: Notre Dame (2020)
Man Coverage Skills: Samuel Jr. is a sticky man corner that thrives in off-man coverage. He’s patient in his pedal and he naturally feels route stems and stays connected. Samuel Jr. does well to stay leveraged over routes and he doesn’t easily concede leverage. Florida State trusted him on an island against top wide receivers and asked him to carry them vertically with no help.
Zone Coverage Skills: Samuel Jr. played more zone coverage in 2020 than in 2019 and the results were inconsistent. While his ball skills are helped by not having his back to the line of scrimmage, there were instances in zone where he missed opportunities to squeeze routes and he appeared overly focused on his landmarks.
Ball Skills: While his two-interception game in 2020 against Georgia Tech was encouraging, the ball found him more than he actually made plays on it and he has room to grow in terms of his ball skills. Samuel Jr. is often slow and late to locate the football with delayed adjustments to it, especially with his back to the line of scrimmage. He has challenges coming off his man to play the football and there is meat left on the bone when it comes to taking chances to make plays on the football.
Tackling: Samuel Jr. does well to aim low and grab when tackling and there were not many whiffs in the games I saw. With that said, his lack of size and hitting power forces him to concede some yards after contact, but he generally does a good job of getting the ball carrier on the ground. There will certainly be challenging matchups in space in the NFL, but Samuel Jr. competes above his weight class.
Versatility: Samuel Jr. played some slot corner in 2018 and 2019 but very little in 2020 which is notable because his lack of size may lead some to believe he’s an inside corner in the NFL. While he has played both left and right corner throughout his career, 2020 often found him on the right side. He is a better man corner than zone corner and has very little special teams experience in college.
Competitive Toughness: Samuel Jr. is a strong competitor, but his lack of size presents some challenges. He isn’t passive when it comes to chances to be physical, but he lacks bulk and it shows up when he’s tasked with bigger receivers. He’s easily bumped at the catch point and he struggles to play off contact in pursuit.
Functional Athleticism: Samuel Jr. is a loose and fluid athlete. His footwork is springy and his transitions are smooth. With that said, his interception returns against Georgia Tech were underwhelming when he had chances to smash the accelerator and score a defensive touchdown. He may not have the long speed preferred for an undersized man corner.
Football IQ: Samuel Jr. has a natural feel for mirroring routes in man coverage. With that said, his inability to consistently find the ball in the air and layering coverage in zone raises some questions. Being the son of four-time NFL Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel is an asset to his knowledge of the game and technique.
Run Defending: Samuel Jr. is a competitive run defender but his lack of size presents some challenges getting off blocks and making impact tackles. With that said, he does understand leverage and run fits which leads to him usually being in the correct positioning.
Length: Samuel Jr. has modest length which reduces his margin for error at the catch point, clearing contact, and as a tackler—which shows up on tape. There aren’t many reps in my exposures that showed his ability to get his hands on receivers at the line of scrimmage and disrupt route timing, but he can be effective in soft press coverage.
Prospect Comparison: Brandon Flowers (2008 NFL Draft, Kansas City Chiefs)
TDN Consensus: 80.50/100
Joe Marino: 81.00/100
Kyle Crabbs: 80.00/100
Jordan Reid: 83.00/100
Drae Harris: 78.00/100
- May 17, 2022
- May 17, 2022