...was the original idea behind this FanPost. I was a firm believer (for right or for wrong) that Asante Samuels was truely over-rated because of his number of interceptions. I attributed this to the "Antonio Cromartie Syndrome" in which players who went for INTs were never as good as people thought. So then I decided to get some facts before continuing this argument, and I was frankly surprised and shamed by the results.
What I found after the jump...
Obviously, the only reason we're having this discussion is because it's recently been reported that it's possible Samuels could be traded. I was going to rally hard against the Panthers ever attempting to trade for him, but upon actually researching Asante Samuel's statistics, I learned he may very well have become under-rated because of all the attention on Darrell Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha the last couple of years.
First of all, I went to Football Outsider's stat sheet for Samuels. And boy, I was surprised about what I found. One of the most important statistics for a CB is stopping the receiver from catching the ball right? Among all CBs against the pass, he's been ranked #1(!) among all CBs in "Stoppage Rate" the past two years with percentages of 63% and 71%. So while I believed he was past his prime, he has in fact gotten better and better the last 3 years (jumping 8% in stoppage rate the last 3 seasons). Another stat that jumped out at me on that page is the number of penalties. He committed only 3 last year for a total of 29 yards. I don't know how that stacks up against other corners, but the fact that he obviously isn't being called for huge pass interference calls is a enormous plus in my eyes.
Moving on, a certain article on Football Outsider's caught my eye. They charted the best CBs with several different stats. As I looked through it, I was surprised not to see Samuel's name absent from every list, especially considering the glowing statistics from his player page. However, when I saw the final chart, everything became crystal clear. It was a two player list who didn't get targeted enough to make the charts. You know how everyone always praises Revis and Asomugha that they're great because no one ever throws at them? The facts of the matter are that nobody is targeted less than Samuels aside from Asomugha. Not only that, but the average yards per catch is a measly 3.2 and the average yards after catch is an even more sparkling 1.9. That means Samuels rarely lets his man beat him deep and is a very sure tackler, making sure no one gets past him.
After looking at all the statistics, one thing is clear: Somehow Samuels has been forgotten as one of the best CBs in the league (probably because of guys like me who think INTs are a sign of being over-rated, not great) and is someone who almost certainly should be targeted by the Panthers. I'm glad I found this out now, before someone else dished me out some crow.