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Asante Samuel And The Art Of The Turnover

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Asante Samuel knows how to pick a pass. In fact, you might even say he knows how to pick a lot of passes.

In his career, the 31-year-old Samuel has intercepted a grand total of 45 passes. That's good for a tie for 55th on the all-time career list, and with the exception of Ed Reed (33 years old, 57 interceptions), everyone active player ahead of him is both older and not all that far ahead in the first place. Even our own legendary Deion Sanders is just nine picks in front of Samuel.

The Falcons' newest cornerback gets all these turnovers with a combination of excellent timing, a willingness to jump the route and plain ol' aggressiveness. He does his best work when he's allowed to play off his man a little bit, tempting the quarterback to throw his way so he make a play on the ball.

Now, the downside of that is that some consider Samuel a gambler. As Bleeding Green Nation's JasonB said, that's not exactly an earned reputation. The real problem is that Samuel is a notoriously poor tackler, so while he can close in if he can't get his hands on the ball, there's no guarantee his guy doesn't take off.

And therein lies the fundamental advantage of—and problem with—Asante Samuel, who will undoubtedly help to improve the secondary and is coming in humble. The Falcons should get more turnovers with a more aggressive pass rush and Samuel back in coverage, but they'll also need to strongly consider having a safety ready to help. I'm not saying Samuel can't do better at tackling, but at 31 it doesn't seem like he's suddenly going to go to a new level.

With the right schemes and a little extra juice from the whole defense, Samuel should still be a huge upgrade on Dunta Robinson outside. I'm excited to find out just how big an upgrade we're talking.

Your thoughts on Samuel's contributions in 2012?