Rookie Rundown: WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

Rookie Rundown: WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

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Rookie Rundown: WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina


Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Deebo Samuel helped his draft stock tremendously with a great senior season for the Gamecocks and then shined in both the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine. His first three seasons at South Carolina were uneven with both promising play and injury issues.  Over the past year, Samuel has risen to a potential first or second-round selection in April.

Samuel’s freshman year was nearly a wash-out due to a hamstring injury. As a sophomore, he led the team with 59 receptions and added 98 yards and six touchdowns as a rusher. At 5-11 and 214 pounds, Samuel is built like a running back. His junior season had a hot start for three games but then he was lost for the year with a broken leg.  He overcame the frustration from his injuries to post another team-leading set of stats with 62 receptions as a senior.

While Samuel’s freshman year was lost due to hamstring and other injuries, he was healthy as a sophomore. The 2017 broken fibula was just the product of an awkward tackle and not a continuation of soft tissue issues. His career at South Carolina may not have racked up monster stats, but he played very well when he was on the field and shouldn’t be unduly considered an injury risk.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 214 pounds
40 time: 4.48 seconds

Samuel not only presents receiving skills, but he also scored seven times as a rusher and was a returner who won All-SEC honors as an all-purpose player and return specialist. He’s not only a solid receiver but brings other dimensions to his NFL team.

Year Games Catch Yards Avg. TD Runs Yards. TD Total Yards Total TDs
2015 5 12 161 13.4 1 0 0 0 161 1
2016 10 59 783 13.3 1 15 98 6 881 7
2017 3 15 250 16.7 3 2 30 1 280 4
2018 12 62 882 14.2 11 8 26 0 908 11


  • Precise route runner
  • Tough guy that plays like a running back with the ball
  • Highly competitive; plays with an edge
  • Quick with great vision that creates yards after the catch
  • Productive despite a lower level of quarterback talent
  • Hits top speed quickly
  • Natural talent that can receive, rush or return
  • Good ball security


  • Needs work as a blocker
  • Lack of height and reach shrinks his catch radius
  •  Has yet to have two consecutive healthy years
  • Concerns over contested catches

Fantasy outlook

Samuel played with less than stellar quarterbacks and still was productive when healthy. Some NFL teams may be concerned about his durability but he’s still expected to be drafted by the end of the second round at the latest. He’s considered a top-ten prospect for wideouts and may rise as high as the fifth one selected.

NFL teams will see him more as a No. 2 wideout that can play the slot and the middle of the field more than a true No. 1. His size is a concern and his speed while adequate isn’t elite. There are a number of NFL teams that will mine the draft for a suitable No. 2 wideout and his talent as a returner will help him see more playing time even as a rookie.

Teams that have had interest in him include 49ers, Chargers, Buccaneers, Bengals, Saints, and Cowboys. Samuel should end up as at least a viable complement to a No. 1 wideout for a team. He has the upside to be more and hasn’t played with elite passing talent so his ceiling cannot be known. While he’s less likely to produce fantasy-relevant stats as a rookie, whatever the situation and quarterback he ends up with will be a major determinant in his success.


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