Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Deebo Samuel, WR of South Carolina. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
Tyshun “Deebo” Samuel is one of the more all-around receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft, and has no glaring weaknesses. Most experts would agree that there are four-five top receivers in this class and Samuel falls somewhere behind them. But how far?
Samuel is an all-purpose player who can help an NFL team as a receiver while also returning kicks on special teams. He plays with a very aggressive style and attacks every snap.
According to DLF’s March 2019 Rookie Dynasty ADP, Samuel is being drafted as the 14th overall player (WR6). He has been drafted as high as seven and as low as 22. While seven seems a bit early, I could see him sneaking into the back end of the first round with a great landing spot. I could also see him slipping back to the back end of round two if he ends up buried on a depth chart somewhere less than ideal.
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Once Samuel committed to South Carolina, he struggled with hamstring problems for the first couple of years of his career. He was fighting for playing time as a freshman and ended up missing some games due to that injury.
Statistics from sports-reference.com.
His sophomore year is when he started to break out and receive some notoriety. Yet again though, the hamstring hampered him for parts of the season and he ended up missing three games in 2016. Despite that, he still shared the team’s Most Valuable Player award after the 2016 season with quarterback Jake Bentley. Samuel led the Gamecocks with 59 catches for 783 yards and one score in ten starts.
When 2017 rolled around, Samuel was off to a hot start with three receiving scores and two return scores in just three games, but unfortunately ended up breaking his leg and was knocked out for the rest of the season.
He rehabbed and came back strong in 2018, earning first-team All-SEC honors as an all-purpose player and return specialist (23-570-1 TD on kickoffs with a 24.8 average) and also earned second team all-conference honors as a receiver (62-882-11). He played in all 12 regular season games, but chose to opt out of the bowl game to focus on the NFL Draft (which seems to be a growing trend).
Watching a lot of tape on Deebo Samuel and 3 things jump out to me.
– Really strong hands
– Elite vision & run after the catch
– Looks like a RB after catching the ball
My NFL comparisons:
– DJ Moore
– Golden Tate@DLFootball @MyFantasyLeague #Dynasty #scout #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/uwRyBGsPlJ
— Levi Chappell (@LeviChappell) April 2, 2019
Samuel has a lot of good traits that some very successful NFL wide receivers have possessed over the years. He has very strong hands and can pluck the ball out of the air. He also possesses very good body control as you can tell from some of the highlights. Even when the quarterback did not throw the ball directly at Samuel, he was able to adjust and pull in the ball.
My favorite trait, though, is his ability to rack up yards after the catch. With a shorter and stout frame, he can be mistaken for a running back once he has the ball in his hands (which is a good thing). He reminds me a lot of DJ Moore and Golden Tate with his ability to make defenders miss, shed arm tackles, and make big plays with his feet.
Another positive is his vision and skill as a returner. He had four kick returns for touchdowns and averaged an impressive 24.8 yards per return. But the concern will be his injury history of hamstring problems and the broken leg. If he is able to stay healthy, I think he can make an impact for a team in multiple ways.
As you can tell from the tape, Samuel resides primarily out of the slot. This can account for his lack of overall production. Though Samuel may leave you wanting a bit more “pizazz” (that’s an official NFL draft term), he makes up for it with consistency. Samuel was targeted 88 times in 2018, 48 of those targets came on first down. On first-and-ten, he gained 321 yards (36% of his total receiving yards) and converted for a first down on 33% of those targets.
When you look at Samuel’s spider graph courtesy of MockDraftable, nothing stands out as far as overwhelming or underwhelming. He measured in at the NFL combine with good size at 5’11”, 215 lbs. He ran a solid 4.48-second 40-yard dash and put up an impressive 39-inch vertical. He also did well in the acceleration and agility drills and showed enough strength with 15 reps on the bench.
All-in-all, when I look at Samuel, I see a wide receiver who won’t blow you away with his speed, quickness, or strength, but at the same time has no glaring needs. I do not think he is an “outside” receiver at the next level, but he could help out a team in the slot if he can stay healthy. If teams can find a way to get the ball in his hands, he could make a real splash.
His rookie ADP of 14 will afford a team to select him towards the front end of round two and at that price, he is a really nice value. Like many of these rookies, landing spot will be key as to what their value will be in following rookie drafts.
If Samuel is drafted by a competent organization with a good quarterback that can plug him into the slot, then I could see him moving into the first round in rookie drafts, and much like Tate or Moore, Samuel has a knack for breaking tackles that result in big plays.
Samuel is, by all means, a safe prospect, much like Damien Harris. He may not be the “sexy” rookie pick at the 2.01 or 2.02, but make no mistake, Samuel can ball. I like him because I don’t have to worry about certain aspects of his game. His ability to break the big play and his skill as a kick returner will have teams thinking about acquiring his services in the second round of the NFL draft.
Two teams come to mind as far as possible landing spots for the South Carolina native: First, he would fit in well with the Washington Redskins. While the quarterback situation is not ideal in Washington, they just lost Jamison Crowder to the New York Jets in free agency and Samuel would fill a massive need for that team. It would also allow him to get integrated into the flow of the offense from day one.
The other team is the Dallas Cowboys. I know they just signed Randall Cobb to fill the void, but the contract was a one-year “prove it” contract and Cobb has a laundry list of injuries. Samuel could help the Cowboys get more production out of their wide receiver group. Pairing Samuel with a young nucleus of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup (jury’s still out on him) could do wonders for both parties.
Follow me on Twitter @LeviChappell.
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