NFL Draft notes: Samuel Jr. plays ‘bigger than his size’

Throughout the pre-draft process, there really weren’t concerns with how Asante Samuel Jr. played on the field. There were questions about his height (5-foot-10) and how that may impact where he is picked and who may take him.

The LA Chargers had little concern. Samuel Jr. was considered one of the top corners in the ACC, along with Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley, and consistently graded out well. Despite that, Samuel Jr. was the eighth corner picked in the NFL Draft.

“Sometimes we throw around, ‘He plays bigger than his size.’ We heard that a lot from our scouts,” Chargers GM Tom Telesco said. “And you do see that when he plays. He has all the traits and attributes that you have to have at that position if you are going to be a little bit size-deficient. … He challenges every single down. He’s strong, he’s built well for his size. Durable. And then his athletic traits, his quickness and his feet, his short-burst explosion, it’s all there.”

The seven corners who were picked ahead of Samuel were all 6-foot or taller, including Pat Surtain II of Alabama (first round, Broncos) and Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech (first round, Titans). NFL defenses need size as an attribute, especially considering the volume of productive tall receivers across the league. But in Telesco’s view it shouldn’t eliminate a corner like Samuel, who brings plenty to the table.

“You’d love them all to be 6-foot, 6-foot-1,” Telesco said. “But they all can’t be that tall. But he has everything else that we look for. Some versatility too as far as playing inside, outside or wherever our coaches want to put them.”

Vikings see upside in JRob

The Minnesota Vikings saw the physical traits and felt Janarius Robinson was a prospect too good to pass up. While Robinson’s production was often inconsistent, the Vikings viewed adding defensive ends as a priority and took Robinson and Patrick Jones II of Pitt in the draft.

“It’s ridiculous, his wingspan and his arm length,” GM Rick Spielman said of Robinson. “And he ran a 4.7. When we’re sitting there and we’re going through these defensive ends, he was the prototype that we love to work with. When you get a guy with that many traits that we’ve been able to successfully develop now you got some legitimate pass rushers opposite (veteran DE) Danielle Hunter. It’s going to be a very competitive camp.”

LB not a stretch for Hamsah

Hamsah Nasirildeen played all over the field at FSU. He saw most of his snaps at free safety (631) or strong safety (316) but also slot corner (307) and inside linebacker (242), according to research by Pro Football Focus. Nasirildeen is viewed by the New York Jets as a linebacker, same as Auburn safety/linebacker Jamien Sherwood (another Jets pick).

“With Sherwood and Hamsah, those are two very long, fast, versatile athletes that fit the mold of what we ask out of our linebackers,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “Run and hit and speed and coverage ability. With the chaos that we create up front, our guys (at linebacker) are more run and hit. They are more lateral players. When you look at Sherwood and you look at Hamsah, they are down safeties, which is basically a linebacker.”

FSU’s draft history

At least one Seminole has been selected in 38 straight drafts, a streak that dates back to 1984 and is the 8th-longest active streak in the nation

FSU had multiple defensive backs taken in the same draft for the 13th time in program history, most among all ACC schools. In the last 34 NFL drafts, 34 FSU defensive backs have been selected.

The Seminoles have also had multiple defensive linemen picked in the same draft for the 13th time in program history, all since 1990.

Former Noles find homes

The Chargers also picked former FSU tight end Tre’ McKitty, who finished up his college career at Georgia. While McKitty’s receiving numbers did not add up in 2020, his blocking stood out on film.

“One of the best things he does is really block at the line of scrimmage,” Telesco said. “Very good size, strength, power. Good feet to stay on blocks.”

The Philadelphia Eagles took Landon Dickerson in the second round (37th overall). Dickerson won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center in 2020 but has also battled injuries in his time at FSU and Alabama.

“Landon Dickerson is a guy throughout this process that our scouting staff, our front office, our coaches, fell in love with. Not only the personality, because you don’t just want to fall in love with the personality, but the player and what kind of player he is and what he can do for us going forward,” Eagles GM Howie Roseman said. “When we look at the offensive line and the success we’ve had along the offensive line and the type of people we’ve had success with, he fits right in. I think our fans are going to fall in love with Landon Dickerson, not only the person, but the player.”

The Dallas Cowboys also drafted offensive lineman Josh Ball in the fourth round. Ball had off-field issues at FSU and eventually landed at Marshall.