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Chargers 90-in-90: CB Asante Samuel Jr.

Samuel has seven picks in two seasons with the Chargers and will look to add to that total in year three.

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The son of former Patriots star Asante Samuel, Asante Samuel Jr. hails from from Sunrise, Florida where he starred at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, the same national powerhouse attended by his teammate Joey Bosa. By the end of his prep career, Samuel was a four-star recruit, the nation’s No. 25 overall prospect, and an Under Armour All-American. He won two state titles in his sophomore and junior campaigns and finished his career with a semifinal placement as a senior.

As a true freshman for the Florida State Seminoles, Samuel played in 12 games with three starts coming in the final four games of the season. He finished with 17 tackles, nine pass breakups, and a tackle for loss. His breakups led all Seminoles that year.

Samuel was named a starter for the 2019 season and began all 12 games en route to earning Third-Team All-ACC honors. He recorded a career-high 48 tackles, 15 pass breakups, one interception, and another tackle for loss. His final season in Tallahassee was punctuated by a First-Team All-ACC honor following a year that saw him notch three interceptions, nine pass breakups, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.

Samuel ended up drafted by the Chargers early in the second round and wasted little time in finding a starting role. He started 12 games as a rookie (missing four to concussion) and finished with 43 tackles, two interceptions, one tackle for loss, and 11 pass breakups. Samuel followed that with a 17-game sophomore campaign where he recorded 57 tackles, two picks, 11 pass breakups, another tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery.

During the Chargers’ wild card matchup against the Jaguars, Samuel picked off Trevor Lawrence three times in the first half, becoming just the second Charger in franchise history to record three interceptions in a half.

Basic Info

Height: 5’10
Weight: 180
College: Florida State
Experience: 2
Years with team: 2

Contract Status

“Asante Samuel Jr. signed a 4 year, $7,222,946 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $2,613,052 signing bonus, $3,601,368 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $1,805,737. In 2023, Samuel Jr. will earn a base salary of $1,316,631, while carrying a cap hit of $1,969,894 and a dead cap value of $1,306,526.” -

The Good

Since being drafted, Samuel has been the fire in the cornerback with his intense and physical style of play. He’s the closest thing that the defense has to a “big thing that comes in a small package.” He started his career with a pair of Pepsi Rookie of the Week honors early in 2021 and most recently picked off Trevor Lawrence three times in one half during last year’s wild card round.

If Samuel can continue being an instinctual ball-hawk, while also cutting down on the penalties, he’ll quickly become a fast-rising cornerback in this league.

The Bad

The downside to Samuel’s physical style of play will always be the penalties that you sort’ve have to take in stride if you’re also going to get a solid man corner. He lacks ideal size and to make up for that he must be a force off the line, so his impact on this team will ultimately sway hard in one direction or the other depending on how clean he’s able to keep his penalty column going forward.

Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2023?

Samuel is one of the Chargers’ top three cornerbacks so he’s an obvious lock to make the team. Tom Telesco recently told the media that he’s definitely a starter, but second-year player Ja’Sir Taylor has also taken a lot of snaps in the slot this year. If Taylor is deemed the “starter” in the slot, it technically puts Samuel on the bench given that JC. Jackson and Mike Davis are the starters on the outside. However, it’s likely a guarantee that the coaching staff will find a way to give Samuel starter-level snaps across multiple spots in the secondary.