According to The Draft Network’s Justin Melo, the Indianapolis Colts are among the NFL teams that have met virtually with Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. ahead of the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft:
— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) April 12, 2021
The 5’10”, 180 pound junior cornerback recorded 30 tackles (22 solo), a tackle for loss, 3 interceptions, 6 passes defensed, a forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries in 8 starts this past season—earning First-Team All-ACC honors.
Samuel’s lack of ideal size and length could hurt his draft stock a bit, but he otherwise posted solid physical measurables at his recent Pro Day (including a 4.45 forty yard dash time):
Asante Samuel Jr. is a CB prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 6.42 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 625 out of 1744 CB from 1987 to 2021.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 22, 2021
Samuel obviously has great football bloodlines, as his father, Asante Samuel Sr., was an NFL All-Pro ballhawking cornerback for both the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles among his NFL stops—who frequently sparred with Colts’ great Peyton Manning.
While some think his lack of size may limit his son to a slot/nickel cornerback at the next level, Samuel Jr. should be able to play the outside—just like his dad at the pro ranks.
He’s fluid in coverage with some speed, smooth hips, change of direction ability, instincts, and ball skills—and isn’t afraid to attack the football downhill.
It’s just interesting because he doesn’t have the requisite length that the Colts typically covet in their cornerbacks (which say, Kenny Moore has to compensate for his lack of size).
Samuel Jr. is a physical, feisty, and willing run defender though which the Colts love at cornerback, and another ‘dawg’ to add to their ascending overall defense—even if he can get outmuscled at times regarding the point of attack.
Here’s what else they’re saying on the talented ‘chip off the old block’ top cornerback prospect:
You could feel this dudes confidence through the computer screen.
Confident CBs that back it up >>>
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) March 19, 2021
Asante Samuel Jr. is some of the most enjoyable tape that I’ve seen this year. Super scrappy, very little wasted motion in his technique, and has both inside/out experience. The best tackling CB that I’ve seen on tape this year.
Lots of Jason Verrett in his game.
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) March 3, 2021
Zone foundation teams will love Asante Samuel Jr
GB, BUF, IND, LAR, NYG, CAR… Come get him! https://t.co/0gPACuO7GZ
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 22, 2021
Quarters/C4 usage has doubled since 2016 in the NFL
If we’re going to see even more zone in 2021… I think some of these DBs in this class are FANTASTIC fits for zone schemes…
Tyson Campbell, Greg Newsome II, Asante Samuel Jr, Paulson Adebo, Ifeatu Melifonwu… Tough group!
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) April 6, 2021
Let’s do one more…
Asante Samuel Jr
Praised for zone instincts, ball skills, flat/force defending… Criticized for size/frame, physicality at catch point, getting off blocks
FSU 2018-2020 Man Coverage: Cover 0 (4.8%), Cover 1 (11%), 2Man (0.5%)
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) April 7, 2021
Shakur Brown would be the next on the list…
I think Asante Samuel can play outside in a zone scheme…
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 22, 2021
Asante Samuel Jr. is a dog man. 1st rnd talent all day. Natural ballhawk!
46.2 passer rating in coverage last season— lowest in draft class
33 pass deflections in 32 games
83.9 PFF grade when there is no pressure on QB (2nd best)
— Hogg (@HoggNFL) April 11, 2021
Asante Samuel Jr. allowed a 46.2 passer rating in coverage last season.
Lowest in the 2021 Draft class. pic.twitter.com/tTjKoNdthA
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 5, 2021
Highest-graded CBs when there is no pressure on the opposing QB:
1. Patrick Surtain II – 87.8
2. Asante Samuel Jr. – 83.9 pic.twitter.com/XMLzAXnyGp
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 10, 2021
Of course, the Colts have a long-term need at starting outside cornerback, as even though Xavier Rhodes was re-signed, he’s 30 years old, and it was only to a one-year deal.
Younger cornerbacks like Rock Ya-Sin and Marvell Tell are firmly in the mix at starting cornerback, but Ya-Sin was up and down last season—while Tell sat out the year because of COVID-19 concerns. Second-year corner Isaiah Rodgers is another name to watch.
Meanwhile, productive free agent veteran cornerback T.J. Carrie remains unsigned.
Samuel lacks the ideal size and length, but he was incredibly productive, has a great football pedigree, and would be a natural fit in the Colts’ heavy zone scheme otherwise—with his scrappiness, ball skills, high football I.Q., and ability to cover in space.
Samuel has been projected by some as a late ‘Day 1’ or early ‘Day 2’ draft pick, so he might be a cornerback prospect to watch in a potential trade down scenario for the Colts—if he doesn’t slide to the team’s second round pick.