The 2021 NFL Draft is ten weeks away, and the first known interview has taken place for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles met with Florida State University cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. via Zoom, the son of former Eagle Asante Samuel.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Asante Samuel Jr. gained football popularity in high school playing, for St. Thomas Aquinas High School as a cornerback. He was ranked 25th overall by ESPN and was a four-star recruit.
Samuel Jr. began his collegiate career in 2018 at Florida State University, starting in the final four games of the season. He finished with 17 combined tackles.
In 2019, he started in all 12 regular-season games, recording 48 tackles and one interception. The interception came against No. 25 Virginia, the same game Samuel Jr. also recorded a career-high of eight tackles.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida State had to revise their schedule. Samuel Jr. played in all eight games for which he appeared. He finished with 31 combined tackles, three interceptions, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.
He was awarded first-team All-ACC selection, was ranked third in ACC and 12th nationally in fumble recoveries, and ranked fourth in interceptions in the ACC.
Samuel Jr. will now plan to enter the NFL one year early, and he already has interest from multiple teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles.
His father, Asante Samuel, played for the Eagles in 2008-2011. After leaving the New England Patriots, he was one of the most sought-after free agents in the 2008 NFL offseason. He had a meeting with Philadelphia almost immediately and signed a six-year, $56 million contract the same day.
Samuel made the Pro Bowl for the second time that year, the first time in midnight green. In 2009, he tied for second (with Don Burroughs in 1960 and Ed Bawel in 1955) in Eagles’ history for nine interceptions in a season. He was selected to the Pro Bowl again in 2010 as a starter.
PHILADELPHIA’S CURRENT CB POSITION
The Eagles’ cornerback position is missing some serious depth going into the 2021 season. On the left, Darius Slay and Cre’von LeBlanc. With 59 total tackles (the most since his 2017 season) and one interception, Slay is the best CB the Eagles have. LeBlanc is an unrestricted free agent this year but is likely to return on a one-year deal.
On the right, Nickell Robey-Coleman and Avonte Maddox.
Robey-Coleman finished with 44 tackles and no interceptions. He did not play the last regular-season game after being placed on the Reserve/Covid-19 list. He now enters unrestricted free agency, and it is unlikely that the Eagles will resign him. Maddox plays his best at safety. He left the 2020 season early with a knee injury, and as of February 8, he still remains questionable for the start of training camp.
The question now becomes, who stands opposite of Darius Slay?
It’s possible that Philadelphia could bring in free agents; however, it’s known that the Eagles want to focus on building a younger team. The need for fresh talent may cause them to rely on draft picks whose current pool has the ability to succeed — including, Asante Samuel Jr.
Although Samuel Jr.’s size is not ideal, he is quick and agile. He provides flexibility as a starting corner who can also play in the slot with man coverage. In 2020, he was the highest-rated coverage defender in the slot by Pro Football Focus.
Samuel Jr. has also been interviewed by the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, and Los Angeles Chargers.