Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
(percentile rank among all WRs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.48 seconds (64th)
Vertical: 39” (87th)
Broad: 122” (62nd)
3-cone: 7.03 seconds (35th)
20-yard shuttle: 4.14 seconds (68th)
Injuries were a big story throughout Samuel’s 4 years at South Carolina. After redshirting in 2014, he was limited to 5 games by a lingering hamstring injury in 2015. He missed 3 games the following year with more hamstring trouble. And a broken leg cost him all but 3 contests in 2017.
When he was on the field, Samuel contributed in multiple facets for the Gamecocks. After a quiet redshirt freshman campaign, he led the team in both catches and receiving yards as a sophomore.
Samuel appeared to be on his way to a huge 2017 campaign before that broken leg. His 3 outings produced lines of 5-83-2, 5-45 and 5-122-1.
He came back strong this past season, setting career highs across the board. Samuel led South Carolina in all major receiving categories, accounting for 24.3% of the catches, 26.5% of the yards and 34.4% of the TDs. Those marks rank 24th, 26th and 18th among the 48 WRs invited to this year's Combine.
Samuel also fared pretty well in the efficiency metrics in 2018. His 9.1 yards per target was 18.2% better than the rest of his teammates averaged. And, according to Pro Football Focus, he ranked 37th among all draft-eligible WRs in yards per route run (2.46).
On top of his receiving production, Samuel racked up 154 yards and 7 scores on 25 carries throughout his 4-year career. And he was an excellent kick returner, averaging 29.0 yards and scoring 4 times on 42 attempts.
Courtesy of @WhatsOnDraftNFL
Games watched - North Carolina State (2017), Vanderbilt, Missouri, Texas A&M, Clemson
Samuel is at his best with the ball in his hands. He’s a plus athlete who earned a 93rd percentile SPARQ score at the Combine. He has plenty of giddy-up in the open field and runs with ferocity.
Samuel isn’t a dominant route runner but does have enough burst and agility to create separation on short and intermediate routes.
He flashes the ability to make big plays downfield …
… But Samuel sometimes struggles to track the ball and isn’t great in contested situations.
Samuel is more athlete than WR at this point. He’s not as strong a route runner as he could be considering his athleticism. And his downfield speed is somewhat negated by his struggles tracking the ball and winning contested catches.
But Samuel’s open-field ability is a major selling point — especially in an NFL that has focused increasingly on getting the ball into the hands of playmakers via short passes and handoffs. Samuels can contribute in both ways. He’ll also bring added value to his NFL club — and some fantasy teams — with his kick-return skills.
The biggest question, of course, is whether his body can hold up. The hamstring issue is especially worrisome after it derailed 2 of his 4 college seasons.
It’s also worth noting that Samuel heads into this spring’s draft as a relatively old prospect. That, plus a good-but-not-great production profile, puts a bit of a damper on his overall profile.