1. Asante Samuel Jr.
After being selected 47th overall in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Chargers CB Asante Samuel Jr. flashed lots of potential in his rookie season.
Unfortunately, Samuel Jr. was only able to participate in 12 games this past year, two concussions resulted in him missing five weeks. The head injuries are a worry going forward, but if the Florida State product is able to stay on the field next year, then big things can be expected from him.
In his twelve games in 2021, Asante tallied two interceptions, one off of Dak Prescott, the other off Patrick Mahomes. To go with that he incurred 11 pass defenses, one tackle for loss, and 43 tackles. Samuel Jr. played 84% of the Chargers defensive snaps, which is quite impressive given the developmental time he supposedly needed after being drafted.
For most of the season, ASJ occupied the 'CB2' role for the Bolts, playing on the opposite side of fellow cornerback Michael Davis. Despite playing in this role, Asante was clearly the better of the two starting outside CB's and should see an increased role next season covering the opposing team's number one option. With Chris Harris Jr. hitting free agency and likely not returning, Samuel Jr. could slide inside to the slot corner role, a critical part of Brandon Staley's defense. Speed, tackling and ball skills are all natural talents to the 22-year-old, and possessing these traits could make him a natural fit in the slot.
For whatever role Samuel Jr. occupies next season, I expect him to continue his development and become the Chargers best cornerback and one of the better young corners in the NFL.