Written by Cody Manning
The 2018 NFL Supplemental Draft will have more eyes on it than usual this year, as we may see up to three players selected. Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal could potentially be the first out of the three to hear his name called. Beal is entering the supplemental draft due to his academics. His former head coach, Tim Lester, said that Beal was forced to make the decision and his GPA wasn’t a big factor. Beal was projected to be a high pick in next year’s draft, so the consensus feeling is that a team will use a pick on him in July. So, I decided to investigate the player Beal is and why he is worth being one of the first players picked in the supplemental draft since 2015.
Stats (24 Games)
Weight: 190 pounds
Tackles: 92 (65 solo)
Tackles for loss: 2
Pass Deflections: 19
Beal uses his long and athletic body to his advantage when he battles with the receiver at the line of scrimmage. He will lock his long arms into the receiver’s shoulder, so the receiver will struggle to get a proper release after the snap. Beal is very smooth when he drops back into coverage and is fluid when he turns his hips to run with the opposing wide out. He does a great job at tagging along with the receiver and hardly leaves their hips.
Beal’s great habit of trailing receivers makes the quarterback think twice about throwing his way. Because of this, if they do, he always seems to find himself by the ball. He does a good job of using his eyes to help locate the ball, so he can make a play on it. For only having two years of experience at the position, Beal is already a natural when he is back in coverage. Based on what I saw on his film, he has picked things up quickly and has a potential to be a quality starter at the next level.
Beal showed the great transition from being a wide receiver to cornerback in his coverage skills, but he did show why he started off on the other side of the ball. If there is one thing that NFL teams will harp on him during training camp will be his tackling and run support skills. Beal didn’t show a willingness to come up and make a big hit on the runner. He can be hesitant, which has resulted in big plays and touchdowns.
He can come in with bad angles which makes it easier for the runner to find a lane to run through. While his long figure allows him to shed blockers, he can easily be blocked by bigger receivers and get taken out of plays at times. Beal does have time to become a better tackler, but unless he shows major improvement he could be a liability for defenses in running situations.
Year One: Beal will have a disadvantage compared to other rookies because he won’t have the experience of diving into the playbook, OTAs, and minicamp. That will put him behind on finding his way into the rotation and climbing up the team’s depth chart. Teams and fans should expect that Beal will slowly be used by the defensive coordinator which will allow him to develop as a player. His tackling issues will keep him off the field on special teams. Beal’s time on the field as a rookie will depend on the team’s depth at the cornerback position and how fast he can figure out the scheme.
Year Three: If Beal is developed into the player he has the potential to be then he should be a great starter on a team’s defense. Even if he only slightly gets better with his tackling and run support, his coverage skills can make him valuable to his team. With his athletic ability, he can evolve into a cornerback you can leave out on an island and count on him to cover the guy across from him. I believe if he goes to the right situation, and gets a coach that can tap into his potential, then he can be worth high pick in the supplemental draft.
After scouting Sam Beal, I see why NFL scouts are high on the player that he can be. If Beal would have entered the draft, he more than likely would have heard his name called on the second night. If Beal would have had one more season at Western Michigan, and showed improvement, then he could have worked his way into the first round of the 2019 draft. It will be interesting to see how General Managers are viewing his value in the supplemental draft.
If I am a team that is desperate for cornerback depth, then I wouldn’t hesitate at spending a second round pick on him. A team that is planning to add to the cornerback position shouldn’t even let him slip past the third round. Because of this, I don’t see Beal slipping far in the supplemental draft. I think a team that needs cornerback depth will pull the trigger on Beal because of the potential player that he can be.
Chicago Bears: The Bears are one of those teams who has to be planning for the future and needs depth at cornerback. Kyle Fuller is the answer on one side of the field, but they need someone that they can pair him up with on the other side. Prince Amukamara isn’t the long-term answer, but Beal could be. This would offer Beal a situation in which he can come in, develop, and see the field during coverage situations early in his career. I would not be surprised if Ryan Pace took a chance on Beal.
Indianapolis Colts: The Colts current projected starting cornerbacks are Quincy Wilson and Kenny Moore. The team is very desperate for depth at this position. While I have high expectations for Wilson, they need to find a way to improve this unit prior to the season. Beal would have the potential to see the field early in Indianapolis. If Chris Ballard hits on Wilson and Beal, then he could have his cornerback duo of the future.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks released their veteran cornerback, Richard Sherman, this offseason. The Legion of Boom will look a lot different this year. Seattle will enter with Shaquill Griffin and Neiko Thorpe as their projected starting cornerbacks. The organization is doing a reset to their secondary and Beal could be a great addition to start it off. He fits their mold of long and athletic corners who they can leave on one side of the field. Pete Carroll can potentially find an answer to his future cornerback problems if the Seahawks to a chance on Beal.