The Falcons have plenty of holes to address this offseason, including at the cornerback position.
The draft isn’t until the end, but the Falcons are already making moves. According to Justin Melo of the NFL Draft network, the Falcons were one of six other teams who virtually met with Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr.
Samuel Jr. isn’t a first-round prospect, but he is projected to go late in the second or early third round in this year’s NFL draft. He capped off the 2020 season with 22 tackles, three interceptions, six passes defended, two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble.
Asante Samuel Jr.’s Scouting Report
Scouts believe Samuel Jr.’s strength is man-to-man coverage due to his outstanding speed, which is what the Falcons played a lot of in 2020.
Here is the NFL Draft Network‘s Samuel Jr.’s full scouting report:
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.
Here are Samuel Jr’s college football highlights:
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The Falcons Have a Dying Need At Cornerback
The Falcons selected Clemson corner, AJ Terrell, as their first-round pick in 2021 and in just his second year in the NFL, Terrell is Atlanta’s top corner. But when you look down the depth chart, there’s nobody else who has proven themselves.
Both Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield have failed to live up to their expectations, meanwhile, Terrell outdid his rookie season when playing against some elite competition.
However, Terrell allowed 8456 yards in coverage which was more than any other outside cornerback in the NFL, and ended up being one of 15 players at the position in the past decade to allow 10 or more plays to result in a 25-plus yard gain. But to balance out his flaws, Terrell recorded 16 passing stops to put him atop all outside cornerbacks in the league.
Terrell finished last season with 61 tackles, one interception, seven passes defended, and three forced fumble.
Samuel Jr. would add some quality depth at the cornerback position, but the Falcons would benefit more from a corner who is effective at both man and zone coverages.