Breaking Down Everything You Need to Know about Nnamdi Asomugha

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Breaking Down Everything You Need to Know about Nnamdi Asomugha
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Nnamdi Asomugha has gone from arguably the best cornerback in the NFL to a released afterthought in two years.  

As a part of the Philadelphia Eagles' dismantling of the failed Dream Team experiment of 2011, the new coaching regime let him go after a pair of lackluster seasons with the organization.

As this currently unemployed defender looks for a new home, here's what you need to know about him. 

 

Background 

Asomugha, a California product, is a rather lanky cornerback at 6'2" and 210 pounds. He will be 32 on July 6 and has played in 10 NFL seasons, the first eight coming as a member of the Oakland Raiders. 

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

His first career pick came in 2006, and he finished that season with eight interceptions for the Silver and Black.

After that, due to the poor Raiders teams he was on, Asomugha earned the "significantly underrated" label, and quarterbacks began keeping the ball away from him.

According to ProFootballFocus (subscription required), he was thrown at a mere 30 times in 2008, 28 times in 2009 and 29 times in 2010. 

He thrived as a Darrelle Revis-esque press cornerback, often locking down the opponent's No. 1 receiver on his own "island."

Asomugha's length, deceptive athleticism and natural mirroring abilities made him an elite cornerback.

He is a three-time Pro Bowler and has been named to the first or second All-Pro team on four separate occasions. 

As the hottest free agent on the 2011 market, Asomugha was somewhat surprisingly signed by the Philadelphia Eagles to a five-year, $60 million contract. 

 

On the Field 

With the Eagles, potentially due to a loss of speed, reactive quickness and athleticism—or maybe a scheme difference—Asomugha played more off-man and zone coverage.

Most cornerbacks have trouble covering Julio Jones, but Asomugha's lack of catch-up speed was noticeable on a 61-yard touchdown he allowed against the Atlanta Falcons in a Week 8 game in 2012. 

Aligned in press coverage, he gave Jones a free release to the outside.

From there, the Falcons wideout simply flipped on the jets and burned Asomugha. 

Matt Ryan delivered a perfectly thrown pass, and six points went up on the board. 

Another problematic aspect of Asomugha's time in Philadelphia was the general lack of communication in the Eagles' secondary. 

Oftentimes, while playing soft zone, Asomugha thought he had safety help that simply wasn't there. 

Check this big-gainer he allowed to Domenik Hixon against the New York Giants in Week 4. 

Again, Asomugha wasn't able to re-route the receiver with a bump after the snap, and Hixon beat him on an crossover move to the inside. 

Keeping outside leverage, Asomugha simply ran alongside Hixon down the field. 

But because Eli Manning's play-action fake baited Nate Allen, there was no over-the-top help, and Hixon was wide open for an easy completion. 

While Asomugha's coverage mishaps were highlighted by the heightened expectations that came from signing his huge contract, he remains a stout run defender. 

He won't blow up many plays in the backfield, but he has keen awareness in regards to diagnosing running plays, getting in the proper position and making form tackles on ball-carriers.

 

Conclusion

No, Asomugha isn't the cover corner he once was.

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But many of the times in which he appeared lost with the Eagles were due to wacky blown assignments, timid coverage schemes and the typical loss of physical abilities that nearly every 30-something in the NFL experiences.

If he works with a disciplined safety duo and is allowed to be more aggressive at the line of scrimmage, Asomugha can still contribute in a positive way to a team's secondary. 

He won't shut down the league's top receivers, but he is still capable of playing good football. 

Now, though, Nnamdi Asomugha will just have to find the perfect situation, one that plays to the strengths he still possesses.

 

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