NAME: Deebo Samuel
SCHOOL: South Carolina
POSITION: Wide Receiver
CLASS: RS Senior
JERSEY: No. 1
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 215 lbs
Routes – Smooth and polished route runner. Is a true route salesman that does well to sell his breaks and establish leverage. Knows how to manipulate corners immediately at the snap and separate. Good quickness in and out of his breaks. Nuanced and alters his tempo effectively. Savvy to find space against zone. Sudden ability to change directions.
Hands – Plenty of examples where Samuel plucks the football firmly away from his frame. Has the knack for an acrobatic reception but is guilty of the occasional drop. Never fights the ball and is able to extend in any direction to bring in the football.
Ball Skills – Finds the football effectively and adjusts to its trajectory. Has an impressive above-the-rim game for his size despite modest hops. Illustrates outstanding body control and the ability to make late adjustments to the football. There are times where his lack of length and catch radius limits him in contested situations.
YAC Ability – Has exceptional field vision to find space and win after the catch. Makes dynamic cuts and is decisive with the ball in his hands. Tacklers have a tough time squaring him up in space. Quick, elusive and agile as a runner. Willing to be physical and compete for yards after contact. Effective taking handoffs and in the return game.
Release – Smooth out of his stance and knows how to reduce his surface area and deploy a variety of jab steps, footwork and body fakes to beat press coverage. Has enough speed but isn’t overly explosive to truly stress corners to turn and run with them. Separates rapidly in quick game.
Play Speed – Demonstrates good play speed but isn’t a threat to consistently blow the top off the secondary. Runs routes with great tempo and timing. Smooth runner with easy acceleration but he isn’t a true burner.
Blocking – Has plenty of positive reps where he frames his opponents and gets his hands fit on the inside of his frame but he isn’t consistent. Can be sloppy with technique and use his shoulders to connect. Can stand to be more consistent following the football and looking for work.
Play Strength – Is assertive in terms of physicality as a runner and in the contact window. Highly competitive despite having some limitations in terms of size and length. Doesn’t always get his frame established at the catch point to take advantage of his hands/ball skills.
Versatility – Capable of winning outside or from the slot with playmaking upside to every level of the field. Has been effective in the return game and taking handoffs on jet sweeps. Has 2 career passing attempts and both went for TDs so throwing isn’t foreign to him. Can help a team in numerous ways in any scheme.
BEST TRAIT – Competitive Toughness
WORST TRAIT – Catch Radius
RED FLAGS – 2017 fracture fibula, battled hamstring injury in 2016
Samuel has been victimized by poor quarterback play at South Carolina but still showcased an exciting skill set. An outstanding route runner to all levels of the field, Samuel is a fit for any scheme with the upside to play outside and from the slot. His blend of ball skills and post-catch ability make him an intriguing weapon. By year three, Samuel has the upside be a prolific top-3 option for a productive NFL passing offense that makes plays in a a variety of ways.
PROS: Well-built, muscular frame. Terrific attention to detail in his footwork and pacing off the line of scrimmage. Can tilt corners immediately off the snap and then explode the other direction for early separation. Tough and physical in press situations despite lack of elite size. As a route runner, consistently creates separation with clean breakdowns and sharp cuts. Drops his hips to explode into his breaks or back to the ball.
Slippery and elusive after the catch. Has enough long speed to pick up yardage in chunks if he gets away clean. Physical with the ball in his hands, will lower the shoulder to pick up extra yards. Natural runner, reads blocks well and is patient in allowing blocks to develop.
Has made some jaw-dropping catches outside his frame while at South Carolina. Excellent concentration and competitive effort to go after balls that look well off target. Stronger in combat catch situations than you’d expect. Overall high motor player with excellent competitive toughness. Excellent return man option as well.
CONS: Fast enough, but not a true burner. Lack of size and length is an unavoidable issue at times, especially in contested catch situations. He converts there in flashes, but it is fair to wonder if bigger, longer corners will make this role tougher for him in the NFL. Does not appear to possess great hops. Could be limited as a vertical threat, which might push him to the slot.
Has flashes as a blocker, but overall isn’t reliable and will need work on his technique. Drops his eyes and throws a shoulder into opponents. Will drop a few passes from time-to-time and his hand size could come into question.
Route Running –Effective and impressive at the line of scrimmage in efforts to create space and defeat press. Quick to climb the route stem and plays with shiftiness prior to his breaks. Does well to sell a false break before gearing down and driving out of his cut.
Hands –Doesn’t have the softest of hands but concentration is good and allows for some tough catches, either in tight spaces or in high point situations. Does well to tuck the ball away quickly, diminishing odds of a defender getting a hand to bat the ball out.
Contested Catch Ability –Hand-eye coordination stands out as an impressive quality. Carries weight well and has some thickness to his frame, which helps him win positioning when he’s collisioned at the catch point. That said, catch radius is limited and isn’t going to dominate in this situation.
Run After Catch Ability –Blend of speed, short area quickness and a well built frame pose challenges for tacklers in the open field, capable of running around or through defenders. Has very good contact balance and shows ability to absorb a hit and recollect himself.
Football IQ –Would love to see him re-adjust how he addresses the football in some cases, will drift too far back into the LOS and open window for defenders to come through his frame and disrupt the pass. Has had success navigating the boundary as a tight window receiver.
Vertical Receiving –Most effective on post routes he can run underneath, size limitations can creep up when he’s tasked with playing back to the football on vertical throws. Has good speed and the needed release skills to quickly stack up defenders.
Change of Direction Skills –Shifty and sudden. Can dart in and out of spaces effectively and will jitterbug through traffic, cutting and forcing missed tackles along the way. Carries speed well through his hard cuts and sustains separation on steep angles.
Speed –Play speed is excellent. Zero to sixty acceleration is effective against most comers and allows for separation if able to stack the route immediately. Play-making ability shines in the open field when able to open his strides and eat up space.
Competitive Toughness –Has some intermittent lags in effort but by and large pushes through the rep. Has a huge impact in the return game and will hold added value as a special teams ace in addition to snaps on offense. Pretty potent pop in pads thanks to leverage/thickness.
Blocking Ability –Has laid some booming hits on defenders in the secondary courtesy of peel back blocks when ball carrier breaks contain. Doesn’t have a great deal of length to stack corners on the boundary but short area quickness provides enough mirror skills to be effective.
BEST TRAIT – Change of Direction Skills
WORST TRAIT – Durability
BEST FILM – Clemson (2018)
WORST FILM – Georgia (2018)
RED FLAGS – Durability
Deebo Samuel is a potent weapon with the football in his hands, he’s effective in winning against press coverage, has the speed to strain off coverage and is sudden and creative after the catch. That said, Samuel projects best into an offense that can feature him in additional ways, whether that’s from the slot, as a move/chess piece and especially in the return game. Not a volume receiver but a speedy threat that will hold secondaries honest. Health willing, a big play creator.