Name: Jaylen Samuels
Position: Running Back
Pro Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
College Team: North Carolina State Wolfpack
Draft Position: Round five, 165th overall
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 225 pounds
- Hands: 9 1/4”
- Arm Length: 31 3/8″
- Bench Press: 18 Reps
- 40 Yard Dash: 4.54 Seconds
- 20 Yard Shuttle: 4.28 Seconds
- 3 Cone Drill: 6.93 Seconds
- Vertical Jump: 34.5 Inches
- Broad Jump: 121 Inches (10’1”)
The problem with assessing a player like Jaylen Samuels is properly defining his strengths. Far too often, dynasty owners look for crazy highlights or some prototypical elite attribute(s) when all you really need is consistency and versatility in today’s NFL. Samuels is exactly that. In fact, his greatest strength is his versatility. He was the perfect mix of tight end, fullback, running back, and wide receiver in college. But how does that help him in the NFL?
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Samuels understands every potential offensive role the Steelers will ask him to fulfill. As a tight end, he was an adequate chip blocker and route runner. As a fullback, he could pull and lead block when asked to. As a running back, he averaged 6.1 yards per carry and found the end zone 27 times in his final three seasons at NC State. However, his greatest strength – which will be where he earns his early career hype – is his receiving ability. He is a 6’0”, 225-pound monster who caught nearly double the passes Saquon Barkley did in the past three seasons. You read that right. The elite receiving power back, Barkley, caught 101 receptions over the past three seasons. Samuels caught 195. The Steelers will utilize this regardless of how long Le’Veon Bell sticks around.
This section is a lot more difficult than the average fantasy football writer may make it seem. The only clear “weakness” may be his lack of experience as a true runner. And even that’s not really a weakness as much as just a question mark. However, Samuels is apparently going to play running back for the Steelers and he only logged 182 career carries for the Wolfpack. He showed good technique and consistent success in that smaller (than the typical RB prospect) sample size. But if Samuels is going to find success as a runner in the NFL, he’s going to have to improve and show he can handle a significant workload. Others may try to reach for other weaknesses, but they’re hard to find.
As I often mention in these rookie updates, this is where fun begins. When talent meets opportunity in fantasy football, good things tend to happen. Bell and the Steelers are almost certainly nearing the end of their partnership. The Steelers can technically attempt to franchise tag Bell one more time in 2019, but it will cost them upwards of $16 million in cap space that they don’t have. 2018 opportunities may not be plentiful for Samuels, but 2019 could be a completely different story. He should (at the very least) work into some receiving action as soon as this season. But in 2019, Samuels may earn a significant role, perhaps even the starting role in Pittsburgh. If that (or even the idea of it) happens, he will see a massive uptick in value.
The most obvious threat to Samuels becoming a viable fantasy option is Bell, for now. Even beyond just Bell, James Conner, a potential draft pick in 2019, and even the inevitable aging and potential retirement of Ben Roethlisberger all present some level of threat. If Samuels was an obvious candidate for stardom in dynasty leagues, he would actually be going a lot higher in dynasty rookie drafts.
The initial ceiling of production for Samuels is clearly capped by Bell, but with one injury Samuels could easily work his way into flex production immediately. 2018 will most likely extend a potential buying window for the already cheap running back. Don’t expect more than you should right away and be patient.
As many fifth-round picks are, he is a still a long shot. However, just imagine for a second what could be. Le’Veon Bell leaves less than a year from now. Jaylen Samuels earns the trust of the Steelers and becomes the starter. His value skyrockets. Even if he fails in a starting or “1a” role the investment of a fourth-round rookie pick or the current equivalent would be worth it. His receiving ability and further-developed run game could, in a perfect world, give us a potential top-15 running back.
NFL Player Comparison
The truth is that there are zero players in the NFL exactly like Samuels. However, there’s one other running back in this very class who – by athletic standards – looks similar. Royce Freeman and Samuels are nearly the exact same height and weight. They have the same 4.54-second forty-yard dash, 34-inch vertical, and 6.9-second three-cone. What’s interesting with Samuels is that he is a far superior receiver, and about ten thousand fewer miles on his tires. I’m not saying Samuels should be valued greater, but he could potentially have a longer shelf life and a higher ceiling with his receiving ability under ideal circumstances.
Projected Rookie Draft Range
Even now, Samuels can be had for a fourth-round rookie pick in most formats according to current Rookie Dynasty ADP. He is the perfect high upside player to take a chance on for the level investment required. Don’t waste any more time. Acquire this potential stud-in-the-making while you can.
As always, find me on Twitter @FF_TravisM. Look for videos from me using the hashtag #TouchdownTime. And yes, I love to chat about these players. I want to learn from you! Thanks for reading, and keeping living that Dynasty Life!