With the 2021 NFL Draft on its way, the Buffalo Bills are preparing to usher in a new wave of recruits to their roster. Hopefully, these rookies can be part of the foundation that leads the team to the Super Bowl next year. Cornerback continues to stand out as a possibility for the Bills, both because of the team’s own weakness at the position and because of the relative strength of the rookie class. With the Bills picking 30th overall, though, they won’t have every option available to them. One player who could be on the board is Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr.
Asante Samuel Jr. CB (Florida State) Scouting Report
- Measurables: 5’10” 180 lbs
- 2020 stats: 31 total tackles, six passes defended, three interceptions, one forced fumble
- 2019 stats: 48 total tackles, 14 passes defended, one interception
- Year: Junior
- Pro day testing: 4.41 40-yard dash, 35” vertical jump, 124” broad jump, 6.98 three-cone drill, 4.09 short shuttle, 12 bench press reps
Asante Samuel Jr. is a smooth, undersized cornerback with 32 games and 23 starts in his three-year career at Florida State. The son of four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel, Junior inherited his father’s nimble footwork and football IQ, traits which made him a top-25 recruit in high school. Standing 5’10” and 180 lbs, though, Samuel doesn’t have the size and length to fit every team’s defense.
Whether he plays inside or outside, cornerback or safety, Samuel’s plus traits can win him a starting job early in his NFL career. He played well on an underperforming defense at Florida State, and there’s reason to believe some of his technical flaws could be coached up as a pro. If the intelligence and effort shown on the tape translates to the practice field, he can eventually overcome his size limitations and become an effective cover corner.
- Smooth, patient footwork helps him effortlessly transition out of backpedal at the top of the route stem
- A high IQ defender with a natural sense for where routes will go
- Plenty of speed, enough to keep pace with NFL receivers on go routes
- High intensity—will bring 100 percent whether it’s a tie game or a 30-point blowout
- Lack of size and short arms will make it harder for him to match against prototypical “X” receivers
- Some teams may see his size and want to try him in the slot or at safety, rather than outside cornerback where he has the most experience
- Lines up too far off the line of scrimmage in press coverage, which makes it even more difficult for him to win against physical mismatch receivers
- Can play with too much desperation downfield, making unnecessary grabs and tugs to avoid conceding a catch
Draft projection: Late first round to second round
Why he fits the Bills
The Bills are still looking for a starting cornerback opposite Tre’Davious White, and Samuel looks to have some similarities, from a distance. Though the Bills are known to prefer taller, lengthier cornerbacks, they still went with the 5’11” 192-lb White in 2017 and wound up with an All-Pro. Samuel’s sticky coverage and aggressive play will work with the Bills, though it could potentially result in a nickel assignment.
Also noteworthy is that head coach Sean McDermott was the secondary coach of the Philadelphia Eagles when they signed Asante Samuel in 2008, then the defensive coordinator in 2009 and 2010. Samuel made the Pro Bowl in all three seasons. Could his son play with McDermott a decade later?