Asante Samuel Jr. is drawing a lot of comparisons to his father, and for good reason. The son of the four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion is only 5-foot-10, which isn’t ideal for a cornerback, but his dad more than proved that size isn’t everything.
A junior at Florida State, Samuel Jr. can make up for size in the same way, as a ballhawk who has the agility and awareness to read and jump routes.
“My greatest strength, I feel like, is my instincts and my ball skills,” Samuel Jr. said. “I feel that I can track the ball very well, and make plays wherever the ball is at.”
He also said that he prides himself on being a tackling cornerback.
“It helps me a lot, being a tackling cornerback,” he said. “Because on the defense, all 11 guys have to make sure they tackle. If you expect to thrive in the NFL or in college, you have to be a tackling cornerback. Just being able to make plays wherever I’m at on the field, especially in nickel or at outside cornerback. I feel like, wherever you put me on the field, I’m going to play.”
Samuel, who racked up 31 tackles, three interceptions, and two fumble recoveries in nine games with the Seminoles this season, said that NFL teams have been asking him about his ability to play in the nickel cornerback, although he feels he is best on the outside.
“I feel that I’m an outside guy. I’ve been playing outside all my life,” Samuel said. “I’ve played nickel sometimes, in my freshman year, but at the end of the day, I make my plays on the outside. I feel that I’m a dominant corner on the outside. They try to look at my height and things of that nature, but I’m the same size as Jaire Alexander, and he’s a dominant NFL cornerback right now – one of the best in the league. I feel like size doesn’t matter; it’s about the heart, and the dog mentality you have on that field.”
He recently met with the Steelers, and Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert attended Florida State’s pro day, where Samuel put up a 4.45-second 40-yard dash, a 6.95-second three-cone drill, and a 35-inch vertical jump.
Inside or outside, Samuel could be a fit for the team. The Steelers have needs at both spots after losing starting outside cornerback Steven Nelson and top slot man Mike Hilton this offseason. Cam Sutton will fill one of those roles, and also has the versatility to play in both spots, but the team will need help to put around him.