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2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
Davis Mattek March 19, 2019 9:41AM EDT

Deebo Samuel 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile Scouting Report

Deebo Samuel has had a wild ride as a prospect. In 2017 lists and at the start of the 2018 season, he was perhaps regarded as one of the best wide receiver prospects in the entire class. Samuel was pretty consistently hampered by injury while at South Carolina. He also accrued a fair percentage of his production via the rush. Similar to perhaps Parris Campbell in this draft class, he is not a prospect that is easy to fit in a box.

Samuel was able to get on the field for South Carolina in 2015 but played in only five games due to injuries. It is worth noting for our purposes that in that young season when he came back from injury, he destroyed Clemson to the tune of 5-104-1. Clemson was 14-1 that season and was considered one of, if not the, best team in college football. In 2016, Samuel accounted for 33% of South Carolina’s total receiving yards while also rushing 15 times and somehow scoring six touchdowns on those rushes. His seven total touchdowns tied him for the team lead with Rico Dowdle and he also lead the Gamecocks in total yards and receptions.

2017 was a lost year for Samuel as he played in only three games before breaking his leg. In those three games, he gained 280 yards and scored four times which hilariously meant that in three games he scored the third most total touchdowns of any player on the team.

2018 was Deebo Samuel’s best year at South Carolina which should be expected given his advanced age. He finally had a 30% Dominator Rating (though I would personally count his 2016 season where he scored seven total touchdowns as a hybrid WR/RB) and played in all 12 of South Carolina’s regular season games. He lead the Gamecocks in receptions, total yards from scrimmage and scored four more touchdowns than any other player on the team. Samuel was also frequently used a returner at South Carolina, scoring 4 touchdowns on 42 total kick returns.

Samuel is not without red flags. He is already 23 years old (older than JuJu Smith-Shuster is RIGHT NOW)! I have written extensively about age and how it relates to future NFL production in these prospect profiles. The general rule of thumb is that the younger a prospect is and the younger they are when they first breakout, the better they project to the NFL. There are also some athletic concerns. 5’11”, 214 is more of a running back size though Samuel projects like a slot wide receiver in the NFL. He is fast enough and agile enough to meet all of the thresholds but is by no means what we would call a “stud” or a “freak”. I would conjecture that he is merely a quite good athlete, not a great one.

Watching Deebo Samuel is really something and is perhaps a great example of why #FilmGrinding is fraught with problems. He played both out of the slot and the outside wide receiver positions for South Carolina and excelled at both. In his highlight reel, he exemplifies both his ability to come down with contested catches in tight spaces and the acceleration to create after the catch. His best trait, to me, is to catch the ball moving horizontally across the field and cut vertically while actually gaining momentum. Joe Ledyard from The Draft Network concluded on Samuel “I think he’s outstanding after the catch and a good route-runner, but he does project as more of a high-caliber complementary piece in an offense rather than a feature weapon.” That assessment seems fair to me. He is not big enough or dynamic enough to be the focus off of a great NFL offense but as secondary complement to a true #1, he projects well.

Deebo Samuel Final Verdict

Much like Parris Campbell, I never expect Samuel to post a WR1 season for fantasy football purposes. Whichever NFL team drafts him will likely consider him a pure slot wide receiver. His redzone prowess at South Carolina seems unlikely to translate to inflated touchdown totals in the NFL. However, when comparing Samuel to the Danny Amendola type of slot wide recievers who offer little after the catch, I prefer the unique brand of acceleration that Samuel brings to the field. NFL teams do seem to like Samuel, especially given that he was a standout performer at the Senior Bowl practices.

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The Atlanta Falcons immediately strike me as a team that could use Samuel right away. Mohammed Sanu is fine for what the Falcons have asked him to do but Samuel offers more YAC-upside. The Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys are both in need of more offensive firepower and someone who can make the lives of their young, mobile QB’s a little easier. The Minnesota Vikings are now empty at 3rd wide receiver with Chad Beebe and Laquon Treadwell fighting for the 3rd spot. Samuel could interchange with Thielen in the slot and outside and would make sense for them as a guy who can step in right away.

2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profiles:
Josh Jacobs
Kelvin Harmon
N’Keal Harry
A.J Brown
Noah Fant
Jazz Ferguson
Miles Boykin
Hakeem Butler
Devin Singletary
Parris Campbell
Gardner Minshew
Lil’Jordan Humphrey
Darrell Henderson
JJ Arcega-Whiteside
Andy Isabella
D.K Metcalf
T.J Hockenson

Photo Courtesy of Deebo Samuel’s Instagram

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