Philadelphia's Asante Samuel is still a very, very good cornerback. I would have absolutely no issues with the Ruston Webster deciding to forfeit either this year or next years' third round pick in order to bring him in. Chances are the asking price won't even be that high as the only team that appears to have any interest at all is the Titans which means they have the leverage here. That doesn't mean I'm positive they'll be cutting a deal with Philly any time soon, it just means that they've indicated some level of interest and are in a position to bargain. So what would the addition of Asante Samuel mean for this team?
First of all, like I said earlier, Samuel is still an elite, play making cornerback. He has the reputation of gambling a lot and getting burned badly because of it, but just look at his 2011 numbers. Some of you may have seen this, as I've posted it before, but it's very hard to not come away impressed at what a year Samuel had in terms of coverage.
|Top 10 Cornerbacks in Yards/Pass, 2011|
As always, a big thanks to Football Outsiders for the table. What you'll notice is that Alterraun Verner and Cortland Finnegan are already a very formidable duo in terms of yards allowed per pass. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how much you think Finnegan is worth) Cortland is no longer with the team, so that leaves Verner. McCain isn't available as far as I know, so why not replace last years' leader in yards allowed per pass with the second runner up, especially when the asking price is so low? I know that the FO tends to draft well in the middle rounds, that's where they got Verner after all, but this seems like an OK time to add some proven commodities.
What you'll also notice is that Samuel has a very high success rate. Success rate measures the percentage of passes that don't manage to get at least 45% of the yards needed on first down, 60% of the yards needed on second down, or 100% of the yards needed on third down. Samuel ranked third in all of the NFL in terms of success rate, he simply doesn't allow many yards. Teams target him deep, the average pass against him goes 14.7 yards, but he somehow continually avoids being burned. For what it's worth, Finnegan finished sixth in success rate at 64%.
Finally, you'd expect a corner who allegedly gets burned deep a lot would have a high YAC allowed. This is another reason why I think that this popular notion needs to die a slow and painful death. Look at his YAC, two yards on the nose. He might not be a great tackler, but as far as cornerbacks go, he's doing his job and not allowing the receivers to reach the open field. Everyone on the defense should benefit from this, we now get to see less of Michael Griffin flailing away in open space as some receiver streaks by him for a big gain.
All of this adds up to Samuel being, statistically at least, the best corner on his team. That's no small feat when you're playing with Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and the maybe somewhat underrated Joselio Hanson. He was simply better in all aspects of the game than any of his peers. That's not a guy you can generally find in the third or fourth round.
Now, outside of simply adding a good player, adding Samuel would also give the Titans some draft-day relief. They can narrow their focus to a top defensive lineman without even considering corner as a position of need anymore. Addressing the defensive line will, in turn, hopefully make the secondary better meaning that adding Samuel could help him elevate his own game in a strange way. I like the idea of drafting Dre Kirkpatrick, but I like the idea of trading for Asante Samuel even more.