The Green Bay Packers have taken a second meeting with one of the top cornerback prospects in the 2021 NFL draft class.
According to Justin Melo of The Draft Network, the Packers recently held a second pre-draft meeting with former Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. as they continue scouting possible options for their No. 29 overall selection in the first round.
The Packers initially met with Samuel — son of former NFL All-Pro cornerback Asante Samuel — over Zoom back in February before general manager Brian Gutekunst made the trek down to Tallahassee to see him in action at FSU’s Pro Day. Now, Green Bay gets the chance to re-evalute him after getting some up-close scouting on him.
— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) April 12, 2021
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Could Samuel Fall Into Second Round?
Samuel’s draft stock has seemed to be on the rise ever since his Pro Day last month. He delivered a solid time in the 40-yard dash at 4.52 seconds and even better readings in the vertical jump (35 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 4 inches), helping him dispel some of the concern about his smaller size at 5-foot-10 and 183 pounds.
According to Melo, Samuel has now met at least once with three-fourths of the league’s teams throughout the pre-draft process. The Packers are also just one of several teams that have met with him multiple times, a list that also includes the San Francisco 49ers (who pick No. 3 overall), Carolina Panthers (No. 8), Los Angeles Chargers (No. 13), Arizona Cardinals (No. 16), Buffalo Bills (No. 30) and Los Angeles Rams (No. 57).
The trouble is nailing down exactly where he will go in the draft — and, more importantly, where the Packers believe he should go. Scouts have continued to pitch Samuel as a potential first-rounder, but he could relatively easily slip into the second round depending on how fast cornerbacks are coming off the board.
Gutekunst clearly liked something about what he saw at Samuel’s Pro Day, but was it enough to justify targeting him as high at No. 29 overall? The Packers might instead be looking to trade down into the early parts of the second round, still taking Samuel off the board but acquiring more draft stock in the process. Gutekunst has, after all, swapped first-round picks in all three of his drafts as the Packers’ GM.
Cornerback Remains Key Priority for Packers
The Packers don’t always do the predictable thing with their first-round pick. Case in point: Trading up to draft quarterback Jordan Love with Aaron Rodgers under contract for another four seasons. It wouldn’t be surprising, though, to see the Packers target a cornerback on April 29 given their overall need at the position.
While the Packers re-invested in Kevin King and Chandon Sullivan for the 2021 season, the only quality-assured cornerback on their roster is 2020 All-Pro Jaire Alexander. The rest of the room — which includes 2018 second-rounder Josh Jackson — has either been underwhelming or seen too little to be judged. Maybe that would work for a team with lower expectations, but the Packers are chasing a title after back-to-back trips to the NFC Championship Game and may believe they need something more right now.
Even if the Packers are comfortable for 2021, they will have more substantial decisions to make next offseason with Alexander, King, Sullivan and Jackson all set to become free agents. The Packers will almost certainly pick up Alexander’s fifth-year option, but it would help give them leverage with the rest if they added a first- or second-round cornerback in 2021.
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