Kansas City Chiefs: Trade-up targets in the 2021 NFL Draft

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images) /
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Asante Samuel Jr., 2021 NFL Draft
2021 NFL Draft prospect Asante Samuel Jr. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Florida State. Asante Samuel Jr.. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Cornerback. 3. player. 804

The Kansas City Chiefs appear to have moved on from Bashaud Breeland, the two-year starting cornerback on the right side of the field. Acquired in 2019 as a reclamation project, the Chiefs signed him to a one-year prove-it deal in 2020 to see if he could return to form. But at 30-years-old, it makes sense for the Chiefs to move on from Breeland after inconsistent performances in 2019 and 2020, while playing only 64 percent of regular-season snaps last season, per Pro-Football-Reference.

Breeland is still a starting-caliber cornerback in the NFL and will likely find a roster spot somewhere in the league, perhaps even with the Chiefs as a backup. But for the front office in Kansas City, it makes more sense to start over in 2021 and see if they can find a younger long-term option for the number one cornerback position.

There are still quality defensive backs out there in free agency the Kansas City Chiefs could bring in for a year or two. But if the Chiefs decide they want to prioritize the cornerback position early in the 2021 NFL Draft, then they should try and move quickly to secure one of the top three rookies in the first round.

It’d be nice to draft a cornerback who has experience on the right side of the field, someone who can be counted on as a physical hindrance in the flat while also a prohibitive deterrent against downfield passing lanes. Maybe a guy who, let’s say, has a former superstar cornerback as his father. A player who perhaps inherited the ability to suppress receivers on the outside while being physical at the point of contact.

A cornerback who played against quality receivers in college and showed his mettle against future NFL quarterbacks, including the best presumptive number one pick this year. Where to find a first-rounder like that in the 2021 NFL Draft is a mystery though; it might require some crack detective work to uncover a talent such as this…


You knew where we were going with this. Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. is considered one of the top cornerback options available in the first round this year. The son of former Patriots and Eagles defensive back Asante Samuel, he has been a consistent presence in the Seminoles secondary since joining the team. He’s been a starter since 2019 and has appeared in every game since coming to Florida in 2018. A versatile defender who can perform as a boundary or field cornerback, Samuel Jr. has a lot of skills NFL teams will be looking for in 2021.

For starters, he’s a phenomenally physical tackler, who can close the distance quickly when he is playing off-man coverage, allowing him to cover a larger swathe of the secondary. One of the better tacklers in the 2021 NFL Draft, Samuel Jr. is physical at the catch point and brings down receivers quickly after completions, allowing very few yards after the catch. While not the biggest cornerback available this year, at 5-foot-10 Samuel Jr. makes up for it with his vertical passing defense, showing (according to his NFL Draft Profile) “good technique in closing out and crowding receivers headed down the field”.

"The first things that stand out when watching Asante Samuel Jr. are his quick feet and fluidity when flipping his hips to track downfield. There weren’t very many examples of guys getting separation from Samuel deep because even if he was beaten on a break, he was able to make up ground in a hurry. He always seemed to be right on the hip of his man, which is proven by his class low 46.2 passer rating in coverage last season. -Dillon Appleman, NFLMocks.com"

Cost to move up

This trade-up option might be one of the more reasonable scenarios in this article, as most NFL draft boards project Samuel Jr. to be a late-Day One or early-Day Two draft pick. It is entirely possible he falls to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 31, negating the need for them to move up at all. But this will largely be determined by how early the other first-round cornerbacks get drafted. If they skew late, the Chiefs should have no problem waiting till their regular pick. But if there is a run on cornerbacks early in the first round, the Chiefs should consider trading up to snag Samuel Jr.

The Baltimore Ravens might be a good trade partner in this scenario if both teams can agree to make a deal with a team that is effectively their biggest intra-conference rival. The Ravens only have seven picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, which limits the moves they can hope to make this year. Securing another pick in Day Two might be beneficial for the Baltimore front office if they want to maximize their chances of getting a starting quality player past the second round. Especially when you consider the Ravens draft 27th in the first round, which is just four picks earlier than the Chiefs.

The Chiefs throwing in one of their fourth or fifth-rounders to sweeten the deal might give them the best chance to secure an elite cornerback from the Ravens. This deal will largely come down to how the edge defender and wide receiver classes shake out in the first round. The Ravens need a transformative pass-rusher as Baltimore said goodbye to both Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue this offseason, two high-quality outside linebackers they depended on in 2020.

They did sign Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee to extensions this offseason, but McPhee is on a one-year veteran deal, while Bowser is effectively on a two-year deal, with another two years effectively voidable. Bowser is also not in the same league as Judon or Ngakoue and the signing is more a reflection of the team’s belief that Bowser can grow into something better under their tutelage.

Related Story. NFL Mocks: Asante Samuel Jr. scouting report. light

The Ravens will also be in the market for a true number one receiving option as well, having been knocked out of the Divisional round this past January with just 162-passing yards. Outside of Marquise Brown, the Ravens are lacking in true-blue receiving talent. Brown is trending in the right direction heading into his third season, but it would be nice for Lamar Jackson to get another quality target in 2021. They are in a division that sent three teams to the playoffs last year, with the fourth team in the division looking competitive after drafting a world-star quarterback in 2020. The Ravens will need all the help they can get if they hope to compete in the divisional arms race that is the AFC North.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs remain the undisputed leaders of the AFC West coming out of the first week of free agency. They can probably spare a late-round pick to their conference rivals and not lose too much in the overall rankings. A trade-up scenario would benefit both teams and allow the Kansas City Chiefs to secure a well-regarded cornerback for the next several seasons on a rookie deal. If the Chiefs scouting department thinks Samuel Jr. is worth the extra draft capital and the Ravens are willing to trade back a few spots, this has the potential to be a win-win situation.