Deebo Samuel Fantasy
Deebo Samuel is one of the more intriguing fantasy football prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft class. Samuel isn’t getting the hype that wideouts like Metcalf or Harry are, but he presents a lot of value for fantasy football players. Samuel caught 148 passes for 2,076 yards (14 yards/reception) in just 30 games over 4 seasons at the University of South Carolina.
Samuel broke out a bit late (20.6 years old) in 2018; pulling in 62 receptions for 882 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Samuel, though, has a dominator rating of 27.2%; which puts him close to the threshold we look for in wide receiver prospects.
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 210 lb
- 23 Years Old
Fun Fact: 1st Down Phenom
Deebo Samuel plays primarily out of the slot. This helps account for his overall lack of production; especially in terms of touchdowns. What Samuel lacks in flashiness, though, he makes for in reliability. Samuel was targeted 88 times in 2018; 40 of those targets came on 1st and 10 and 8 targets came on 1st and goal. On 1st and 10 he caught 321 yards (36% of total receiving yards) and converted the first down on 33% of those targets.
NFL Combine Recap:
- 40 Yard Dash: 4.48
- Bench Press: 15
- Vertical Jump: 39″
- Broad Jump: 122″
- 3 Cone Drill: 7.03
- 20 Yard Shuttle: 4.14
- 60 Yard Shuttle: N/A
Deebo Samuel performed on par with expectations in Indianapolis. His vertical jump was 5th best at the position. He also had the 5th best 20 yard shuttle time. His strong performance at these two drills, in particular, shows his athletic upside. Samuel, unsurprisingly, measured in at the low end of arm length (31.375) and wingspan (75.125) for the wide receiver position. He did, however, measure in with an impressive 10″ in hand size. Samuel’s 40 time (4.48) isn’t bad for the position-but given how quick he looks on tape I was hoping for slightly better. Overall, Samuel’s performance at the NFL combine backs up what you see on his tape-which I break down below.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Deebo Samuel is one of the fastest players in this draft class. He burns SEC defenders off the line of scrimmage consistently, making it hard to play press coverage against him. Samuel moves very quickly in space and is elusive in the open field; giving him great YAC upside. His speed and ability to make defenders miss in space is his best feature.
Samuel is also extremely athletic. He has good balance and stays on his feet after taking hits in the air and on the ground. He has quick feet and makes his body longer with good vertical ability. Samuel also returns kickoffs for South Carolina, which could help him see the field early and make an impact at the NFL level.
Samuel is not afraid to get physical with defenders. He has quick hands that allow him to consistently create separation at the line of scrimmage. He positions his body well to box out undersized defenders and dominate the first level of the field. His strength helps him with blocking but I do not consider him among the top blocking wideouts in this class.
One of Samuel’s biggest weaknesses is his hands. Samuel struggles to pull in contested catches in the short field or on jump balls. His tape is a frustrating review because you can see him make some beautiful catches but you also see a lot of inconsistency and unnecessary drops.
Samuel does not have a diverse route tree. The majority of his targets in 2018 came from slant route and screens off the line of scrimmage. He also worked some drags, seams, and outs. I understand why the Gamecocks kept him running slants; he consistently creates separation and gains yards after the catch when he has that space to work within. Samuel has the ability to be a very effective slot receiver in the NFL, but I think he’s limited to that role.
Best Fit: West Coast Offense
The west coast offense relies heavily on short passes opening up the field early for big plays downfield. Samuel can be the pesky slot receiver that draws defensive backs up and allows for the “X” receiver to break off a big play. His slants and ability to gain significant yardage off screen plays tie in perfectly with the spirit of the offensive scheme.
Dynasty Factor: Destined to be a WR2
Deebo Samuel can be a good NFL receiver and contribute points to fantasy football PPR rosters for years to come. I can not, however, see Samuel ever finishing a season as a WR1. He lacks the route running versatility or pass-catching consistency to be a big-play threat. Samuel will likely come off the board in the mid-2nd to mid-3rd round in fantasy football rookie mock drafts. Although he comes with flaws, I feel very comfortable taking Samuel at this point in my drafts.
I see Samuel coming into the NFL with Day 2 draft capital. I believe his ceiling is with the Cincinnati Bengals (42nd overall pick). Zac Taylor is the new leader of the Bengals and comes with the Sean McVay philosophy that is rooted in the west coast offense. Samuel would fit nicely in the slot, with Green acting as an effective “X” and Boyd as an impactful “Y”. It is also believed that the Bengals will be moving on from John Ross prior to or during the NFL draft; meaning they are likely to look for an addition to that already shallow position. Samuel could also find himself heading to Green Bay (76th overall pick) with new head coach Matt LaFleur, another branch of the McVay coaching tree, looking to bring his own playmakers into Aaron Rodgers’ offense. Both of these landing spots are great examples of offenses that could use Samuel on first and second down to open up the field for effective “X” receivers. If he lands in one of these offenses, his value jumps.
Samuels’ reliability could also be the downfall of his fantasy football value. I can see a team like the New York Jets (68th overall) or Buffalo Bills (75th overall) being attracted to Samuel. He would be an effective option to help one of these franchises’ sophomore quarterbacks. Both the Jets and the Bills, however, are inefficent offense that both struggle to stay on the field and find the end zone. Although Samuels may see more targets early in his career in one of these sub-par New York landing spots, it would hurt his ability to consistently perform for fantasy football players.
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