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Green Bay Packers: NFL Draft Profile — Asante Samuel Jr.

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Title: Green Bay Packers: NFL Draft Profile – Asante Samuel Jr.

Asante Samuel Jr.- CB, Florida State – 5’10” 184 lbs

Trapped on a lackluster Florida State defense, Asante Samuel Jr. was one of very few bright spots on the field, registering 97 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 4 interceptions, 29 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble in 3 years and 31 games played.

When you first glance at Samuel and some of his career highlights, it’s hard to not immediately think about Green Bay Packers All-Pro CB, Jaire Alexander, with the way they both play the game. Samuel and Alexander are both sticky man corners, playing with downhill aggressiveness, and high motors on the field. Unfortunately, as of right now – the deeper you dive in to the film – those flashes are exactly what they appear to be – simply flashes.

Positives

Samuel played majority of his time in man coverage at Florida State and he did an excellent job at it. He was always stuck on his wide receivers and almost never got fooled by double moves or any creative play design. Samuel is also phenomenal at mirroring wide receivers and their footwork off the line of scrimmage.

If there was one word I would pick to describe Samuels play-style, it would be “downhill”. Samuel comes up and plays the run with aggression and has also proven to be a successful playmaker against screens. He can quickly evade blockers and shoot gaps to get to the ball carrier before any significant momentum is gained. In the passing game, Samuel is best when he has room to plant his foot and work back to the receiver while having an eye on the ball and it’s trajectory – no matter if it’s a short or deep throw.

Samuel does a good job of getting his arm in-between the ball and the receiver and causing pass break-ups. He looks like the top three cornerback prospect he could potentially be when his head and body are in position to see, read, and make plays on everything. The spark and energy he brings to the table after the play will also allow him to become a great teammate on the field, especially when his future team is in need of a momentum swing.

Negatives

Physically and athletically, Samuel is slightly limited and it can hinder his ceiling. Being 5’10”, 184 lbs, and having 29.5” arms is not necessarily a negative but it certainly can be problematic in the future. You would expect a smaller cornerback like Samuel to have great speed but judging by his film he only looks to run around a low 4.5 second 40-yard-dash.

Samuel’s short arms affect his ability to disengage from blockers once they are inside of him. It’s fair to question whether those struggles defeating blocks translate to struggles in press coverage. We haven’t seen Samuel in that role much and he doesn’t fit the mold of a press corner.

Samuel needs to get more practice in zone coverage to prepare for the NFL. His ball skills on deep and intermediate passes need to see an improvement, along with his instincts on when to attack the receiver’s hands when he can’t get his head around to make a play. It’s become apparent that almost every ball thrown his way ends up completed when he can’t get his head around to see the ball; even more so against bigger receivers.

The majority of Samuel’s reps in college started off in a turned set to read the backfield easier, but there were instances where wide receivers would take advantage of that and created easy separation by exiting his field of view. He will either need to work with coaches to fix that issue or switch to a normal stance set up unless it’s a rushing-down. Also, even though Samuel attacks run plays downfield with ferocity, once runs get to the second level, Samuel has been seen playing softly and looking for ways to avoid contact if another defender can make the tackle.

Overview

Asante Samuel Jr. has a good foundation of skills that many prospects struggle to develop. He also has issues that will take time to fix and develop, some worse than others. Under good coaching with a scheme that fits his style, Samuel can be trained to be a game-changing player and a long-term starter. Without that, old habits and tactics from a bad college defense could remain and could negatively impact Samuel’s career.

Samuel does have a good amount of slot experience and it could benefit him to start his NFL career in the slot while he improves his outside skills in practice, then slowly make the transition when he is ready (if that is what is wanted by his team). He is currently projected as a late 1st rounder, I believe he is more of a mid-2nd rounder. A team like the Green Bay Packers, with a strong secondary coaching staff, could take him and develop him into a solid draft pick and contributor.

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