Curtis Samuel, WR/RB, Ohio St.
(percentile rank among all WRs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.31 seconds (96th)
Vertical: 37” (72nd)
Broad: 119” (42nd)
3-cone: 7.09 seconds (23rd)
20-yard shuttle: 4.33 seconds (20th)
Samuel was a dominant RB in high school but tabbed a 4-star WR prospect by most recruiting services. He ended up playing both positions for the Buckeyes.
As a true freshman, Samuel was lightly used as Ezekiel Elliott’s backup. He averaged a strong 6.6 yards per carry, though, and popped in 6 TDs on just 58 attempts.
Ohio State moved Samuel to H-back for 2015 to get him onto the field more often alongside Elliott. That stunted Samuel’s rushing production, but he ranked 5th on the team in catches and 4th in receiving yards. His TDs came from 24, 30 and 40 yards out.
Elliott’s departure paved the way for Samuel to take on a much bigger role this past season. He ranked 3rd on the team (behind QB J.T. Barrett and RB Mike Weber) in carries, rushing yards and rushing TDs. Samuel’s 9.7 yards per carry ranked 7th nation-wide among 413 players who carried 50+ times.
He also easily paced the Buckeyes in catches and receiving yards. (WR Noah Brown ranked 2nd on the team with 32 catches and 402 yards.) Samuel and Brown tied for the team lead with 7 receiving scores.
And while those raw receiving numbers might not jump off the page, note that Samuel accounted for a higher share of his team's receptions, receiving yards and receiving TDs than Mike Williams last year.
The dual-threat dynamo was the only player in the country to post 700+ rushing and receiving yards. He averaged a sizzling 9.6 yards per touch and ripped off 18 plays of 20+ yards. Samuel was named a First Team All-Big 10 WR and a First Team All-American by the Associated Press.
Courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com
Games watched - Bowling Green, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Michigan, Clemson
Ohio State got the ball in Samuel’s hands in a variety of ways last year: straight handoffs, option runs, read options, direct snaps and passes. He lined up in the backfield, in the slot, out wide and as a Wildcat QB.
Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for getting Samuel into favorable matchups. Here, he motions out of the backfield and into the slot for a 1-on-1 matchup with a safety. No contest.
That’s not to say Samuel was simply a product of scheme. You want open-field ability? Here’s some open-field ability:
He’s an electric talent with the ball in his hands, showcasing breakaway speed and make-you-miss ability.
That same combination of speed, acceleration and agility makes Samuel a terror in the slot, where defenders have to guard against in-breaking cuts, out-breaking cuts and the deep ball.
(Samuel is matched up against potential 1st-rounder Jabrill Peppers here.)
Samuel boasts reliable hands (he dropped just 2 of 31 catchable targets in the 5 games I watched) and has the ability to adjust to balls that aren’t thrown on the money.
While he’s not a dominant high-pointer, he does flash the ability to make plays in traffic.
As a runner, Samuel is certainly at his best outside the tackles. He’s willing to bust it up the gut, though. And for a smaller guy, you don’t see him dancing behind the line of scrimmage too often.
He’s also able to shed tacklers at times and can pick up yards after contact with balance and leg drive.
We’ll see how high Samuel goes in the draft and exactly how his new team plans on using him. But I believe he has the ability to succeed as either a change-of-pace RB or a slot WR. A team that uses him in both roles would really unlock his fantasy upside.
The biggest concern with Samuel is his size. He lands in the 22nd percentile in height and 38th in weight among WRs. At RB: 48th percentile in height and 9th in weight. While Samuel played in all 26 games over the last 2 years, he missed time with a leg injury as a freshman and underwent surgery — reportedly on his foot — last offseason.
Don’t bank on this guy being a volume hoarder at the next level. But he doesn’t need to be. He’s a big play waiting to happen and could certainly rack up useful fantasy numbers on 100 or so touches. Whether that’s something like 30 carries and 70 catches or vice versa remains to be seen.