RSP contributor Scott Bischoff delivers a scouting report on 2019 NFL Draft prospect Deebo Samuel, a physical and dynamic wide receiver from South Carolina.
Name: Deebo Samuel
School: South Carolina
Position: WR (Redshirt Junior)
Size: 5’11” and 214 pounds
Samuel brings an intriguing blend of athletic tools to the table. He has fantastic short-area quickness and lateral agility and couples that with a smooth, fluid running style. He is very quick and displays outrageously fast feet and can accelerate through contact, and into and out of his breaks to create separation. Samuel showcases elite stop/start qualities and changes direction with ease, and combines that with incredible suddenness and explosive movement ability over short areas.
His quickness, agility, and balance are all on display when he has the ball in his hands, and because he is built so low to the ground, he can stay in his feet when other receivers would not. I have concerns about his long speed as I do not see an incredibly fast player over long distances. However, that is not where Samuel wins on the field, so those limitations are not likely to hamper him going forward. Perhaps long speed is not something that should matter all that much when it comes to Samuel’s evaluation. The video below demonstrates Samuel’s athletic tools which include excellent suddenness, change of direction ability, and excellent balance. Also, notice his physical style and how much he looks like a running back with the ball in his hands.
Yards After the Catch
Samuel is an interesting study as he is versatile in his physical makeup. Because he displays excellent athleticism, he can defeat cornerbacks via speed and quickness, but he can also beat defenders because of his physicality. He is built like a running back, and his physical style is very different from the prototypical wide receiver. He is tough to bring down, and at times he will punish smaller defensive backs by running through them instead of trying to outrun them.
Samuel is not passive as a ball carrier, and while he can make defenders miss with excellent lateral quickness, there are times when he breaks tackles that others cannot because of his balance and lower body thickness. Samuel is perfectly suited to play the slot as he can cross the face of the defender with ease. Teams would be smart to use slants and short passes to get the ball to Samuel quickly and allow him to use his skills to generate yards after the catch. In the following video, you can see that Samuel is a no-nonsense runner. Watch him get the ball up the field immediately upon catching the ball and not wasting time near the line of scrimmage, and look at the blow he delivers to the defender to end the play.
Release/Line of Scrimmage Work
Samuel brings added value as he is not only a slot receiver but is also capable of beating press coverage on the outside. Samuel shows his physical nature when defenders try to bully him at the line of scrimmage. Because of his upper body strength, he can extend his arms to create the room his feet need to separate from the defender. He has super quick feet and when given a free release, he’ll earn space. The slot where he will primarily be in the NFL.
When he is given a two-way go, he uses a jab step to set up defenders, manipulating them into opening their hips. Samuel smartly uses the cornerback’s body and leverage against them, and he separates with ease as he forces the defender to turn and run to stay with him.
Samuel does a solid job of beating whatever coverage the defense throws at him. The following videos showcase Samuel’s foot speed, short-area quickness, and the outside jab step he uses to set up and to run away from a defender. This type of route running makes him incredibly difficult to cover and naturally makes him a nightmare to handle out of the slot.
Samuel is an advanced route runner coming out of college. Many receivers entering the draft run a limited route tree and need time to learn the NFL playbook. Samuel creates separation with his feet, displaying extremely efficient and sharp cuts into and out of his breaks. That separation continues as he accelerates through the breaks and does not slow or gather to change direction when running routes. He creates fairly easy separation in the short and intermediate parts of the field. Samuel is dangerous as a route runner to most parts of the field, but long speed is a question mark as he does not look like a true burner, but that does not mean he is slow.
At the 2019 NFL Combine, Samuel measured in at 5’11” and 214 pounds, but what stands out is his hand size (10”). Samuel has enormous hands for a shorter man, and his big, strong hands help him in contested-catch situations. Samuel’s ability to catch the ball naturally is one of his better traits, and he does a fantastic job of catching the football in all areas of the field and every situation. He has shown the ability to bring down passes with one hand in the back of the end zone, and he seemingly always comes down with the ball in tight quarters. Samuel is an extremely confident football player and that shows in how naturally he catches the ball in all areas of the field.
Samuel projects to the slot in the NFL, and he could carve out quite a role in an offense out of the slot because of the physical attributes mentioned above. However, he is not limited to slot duty. He can play outside because of his strength to get off of press coverage and that adds value to what he brings to a team. He is a dynamic kick returner which further adds value. Samuel will likely struggle with some things in his first year, but he is a versatile player with a very interesting combination of skills. Samuel should become an important part of an offense early in his career, and if he ends up in the right situation, he could be a high-level performer right away.
Samuel is an incredibly intriguing player coming into the NFL because of his combination of quickness and physicality. He is a playmaker and a dangerous weapon lining up out of the slot as he can create separation quickly with his foot speed. Samuel looks like a running back with the ball in his hands, and teams should get the ball to him as quick as they can and let him go to work. He is a versatile player because he can line up anywhere in an NFL offense and produce, but is best suited to play out of the slot as he can exploit smaller defenders with his physicality and ability to break tackles and run into space.
Samuel is a good route runner, and he does a very nice job of naturally catching the football. He looks like a fiery player playing with intensity and competitiveness, and those are tremendous traits that teams covet. Samuel looks a lot like Florida State Seminole Anquan Boldin when he was coming into the NFL in 2003, and that is a tremendous compliment.
He will be a potent red zone weapon because of his quickness and route-running savvy, and he will help an offense keep the chains moving. Samuel can help almost any NFL offense and should be considered on the draft’s first day as he is one of the best wide receivers in the 2019 class. If a team is looking for a slot receiver that can open up things for the rest of the offense, then he should be in consideration starting in the bottom half of the draft’s first day.
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