By Charlie Campbell
Summary: In the offense-driven NFL, landing play-makers who can produce points is always in demand. Samuel was a threat as a runner and receiver for the Buckeyes, so he will appeal to teams looking to weaponize their quarterbacks.
As a sophomore and freshman, Samuel didn’t see a lot of touches as Ezekiel Elliott was the focal point of Ohio State’s offense. Samuel notched 22 receptions for 289 yards with two touchdowns in 2015, plus ran for 132 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown. As a freshman in 2014, he had an average of 6.6 yards per carry for 383 yards and six touchdowns.
With Elliott in the NFL, Samuel became one of the featured play-makers for the Buckeyes in 2016, recording 74 receptions for 865 yards and seven touchdowns through the air. On the ground, he averaged 7.9 yards per carry for 771 yards with eight scores. At the combine, Samuel was very impressive with a 40 time in the 4.3s.
Samuel was a dangerous weapon for the Buckeyes, and sources have compared Samuel to Percy Harvin in terms of being a fast, explosive play-maker who is a hybrid wide receiver/running back. For the NFL, Samuel would be a great weapon for a creative offensive coordinator who uses him in a variety of ways. Samuel could work as an outside receiver, a slot receiver, and a running back. He has sheer speed to burn cornerbacks with straight go routes or slants down the field. His quickness, athleticism and explosiveness can take defenders by surprise as he runs straight past them. Sources say that Samuel is a good route-runner as a wideout despite having split time at two positions for the Buckeyes.
Even if you eliminate Samuel as a running back, he is an explosive wide receiver. He will be able to line up on the outside and challenge defenses vertically. Samuel also can get quick separation with his speed and explosiveness, plus has tremendous run-after-the-catch skills. He is the kind of receiver who can take a quick slant to the end zone from any place on the field.
As a runner or receiver, Samuel is a play-maker. He is very fast and a threat to score on any touch. He has moves in the open field to juke defenders or weave around them with excellent cutting ability. While Samuel isn’t tall and lacks length, he is put together well with a thick build. He is a dangerous runner out of the backfield on runs to the perimeter or on end arounds.
Samuel isn’t big enough to pound the ball between the tackles as an NFL feature running back. He will have to be used sparingly as a running back and become more of a receiver. There is some concern with a player like Samuel being a tweener and not having a position, but if he develops more as a receiver, he should be a real asset for a pro offense. Samuel could use NFL coaching to develop his overall polish as a receiver.
Team sources feel that late in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft is a real possibility for Samuel. He shouldn’t last long if he falls to the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Percy Harvin. Team sources agree that Harvin (5-11, 184) is the comparison for Samuel. They are identical in height, and Samuel is a bit heavier than Harvin. Both are Urban Meyer products who hurt defenses as wide receivers and running backs. Harvin was a pick in the back half of the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Samuel could go in the same range in the 2017 NFL Draft or early in the second round if he slips to Day 2.
NFL Matches: Buffalo, Philadelphia, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Kansas City, Denver, San Francisco and Chicago
There could be a lot of teams in the market for an upgrade at wide receiver, so Samuel should be a late first- or early second-round selection. Early in the second round both the 49ers and Bears could use more long-term talent at wide receiver. Samuel would be a nice addition for either team.
Buffalo needs a wide receiver to pair with Sammy Watkins. The Bills badly need a play-maker to help their passing offense when Watkins is out of the lineup and exploit teams sending double coverage his direction. They also liked Percy Harvin enough to bring him on the roster, so a similar player in Samuel could have an appeal to them.
The Eagles have to get more weapons for Carson Wentz. They have some bigger receivers, and Samuel would give Philadelphia a speed element. Samuel could be a fit for Philadelphia in Round 2.
Tennessee needs to find more receiving weapons for Marcus Mariota. Samuel would make sense if the Titans trade down from their second first-round pick.
The Buccaneers signed DeSean Jackson, but they could use a third receiver to go with him and Mike Evans. Getting another receiver who can separate quickly would be huge for Jameis Winston.
The Ravens could consider Samuel as their long-term replacement for Steve Smith.
Denver wants to add to its offense, and Samuel would give Paxton Lynch a vertical weapon. Samuel could give the Broncos a lethal three-wide receiver set with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Kansas City supposedly wanted Laquon Treadwell last year, so adding more receiving talent to go with Jeremy Maclin could be a possibility for the Chiefs.
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