Coming in to the NFL Draft process, most of the questions regarding Curtis Samuel focused on whether he would be considered a Running Back, or a Wide Receiver. Those questions were semi-answered when he was listed amongst the Wide Receiver group for the NFL combine. However, it is yet to be determined how NFL teams plan to use Samuel at the next level. Will he be used similar to Ty Montgomery, or Percy Harvin, or Randall Cobb? Will he be a gadget player? Will he be used as a 3rd down back in a Theo Riddick role?
A lot of those questions will probably be answered depending on landing spot. One thing we do know is that Samuel has a very diverse skill set. Described as a “jack of all trades, master of none”; Samuel had success both running the rock and catching the ball at Ohio State. In his senior season at Ohio State, he had over 1,500 yards from the line of scrimmage. This was split pretty evenly between rushing and receiving. With Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Thomas out of the picture, he was a real focal point of the Buckeyes’ offence in 2016. A breakdown of his college production can be seen below:
His peculiar usage brings concern from some potential owners, as some believe he can be used sparingly on trick/gadget plays. However, there are those who believe he can be a useful PPR RB2, similar to how the likes of James White and Theo Riddick if he is to be given a RB designation in fantasy. This sentiment was echoed by an East Regional scout for an AFC team in an interview with NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein. The scout declared, “It’s kind of like with Jalin Marshall last year. How do you use him? He’s not a running back and his routes and hands really aren’t that good. Marshall went undrafted. Samuel is a better athlete but they are about the same size and give you the same concerns with how to use them.” If he can’t rush as well as a RB and can’t catch as well as a WR, there’s obvious concern.
I’m of the belief that he could be a matchup nightmare. Physically very gifted, Samuel ran a 4.31 40 at the combine and backed that up with a 37 inch vertical and 119 inch broad jump. The explosiveness is evident and if the ball can get put in his hands on screens or from the slot, I think he can be a real home run hitter. Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline supported this notion stating, “Curtis Samuel will be a Darren Sproles-type player in the NFL. In other words, a multi-dimensional weapon that can line up in the backfield, shift into the slot when needed and be a dynamite return specialist.”
In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal, one scout stated, “He’s Percy Harvin. Urban (Meyer) ran him from the tailback spot more than he ran Percy Harvin but that’s because the game has changed. Every time he touches the ball it’s a potential touchdown. Unique player, physically tough, playmaking ability. He’ll run fast but he’s just more of an athlete than a player right now.” I think this is a nice summary of Samuel and that we can expect to see a lot more question marks throughout the summer, as no-one seems to have a real sure mind as to what he will be.
Based on an aggregate of physical attributes, workout metrics, and college production/efficiency, Player Profiler has compared Samuel to Randall Cobb. Personally I think Samuel will be more of a ‘tweener’ than Cobb and will be used more out of the backfield than Cobb has so far in his career. I also think Samuel doesn’t have quite as good hands as Cobb, but if he does get a dual RB/WR designation in fantasy as previously mentioned, then I am very interested. On Dynasty Nerds’ March ADP he ranks at 23rd overall, so end of the 2nd round. At this price he is worth the risk.