South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel has captured praise throughout the week-long set of practices at the Senior Bowl. The sturdy Gamecocks receiver has consistently found success against opposing defensive backs and he has bolstered his draft stock as a result. Operating inside Head Coach Kyle Shanahan’s pass-friendly offense, Samuel is primed for a stellar outing on Saturday.
As a senior, Samuel bounced back from an injury-shortened season to secure 62 receptions and 11 touchdowns. Samuel’s draft stock is built around his ability to make tough catches in tight areas. Built like former NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin, Samuel is equipped to handle a heavy workload over the middle of the field. Along with his six-foot, 210-pound frame, Samuel has displayed excellent footwork.
Here is a brief highlight of Samuel taking Houston cornerback Isaiah Johnson to task (via The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen).
Along with playing to his strengths, Samuel has also erased doubts related to his ability to create plays down the field. Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports explained that NFL scouts have had to re-think their original evaluations of the South Carolina standout after this week’s Senior Bowl festivities.
Coming into Mobile, scouts questioned Samuel’s deep speed — he averaged 14 yards per reception in college — and he answered those questions from the moment he stepped on the field. He ran by defenders all week, and also flashed his jaw-dropping change-of-direction skills during red zone drills on Thursday.
In today’s pass-heavy NFL, plenty of teams will be lining up to select Samuel in April. Here is a look at two teams that present the Gamecocks star with the best chance to succeed.
The Ravens Look to Upgrade
It was a rough year for the Ravens‘ wide receivers. Joe Flacco’s exit and the insertion of Lamar Jackson’s run-heavy style led to sparse opportunities for Baltimore’s veteran cast. WIth Jackson seemingly in control of the offense moving forward, the Ravens will look to give their young quarterback more options in his second season. Adding Samuel’s reliable hands to the mix would pay immediate dividends for Head Coach John Harbaugh’s offense.
Samuel’s greatest strengths align closely with Jackson’s tendencies as a passer. When moving the ball through the air, the former Lousiville standout looked to tight end Mark Andrews often. Andrews will still be a big part of the Ravens’ gameplan moving forward, but Samuel would give the offense a more dynamic option on underneath routes.
Cooper & Samuel Join Forces in Dallas
The Cowboys completely revamped their passing game by acquiring Amari Cooper from the Raiders in a midseason trade. Cole Beasley has handled duties in the slot for the past few years, but Samuel would present Head Coach Jason Garrett with more flexibility over the middle. Samuel would give the Cowboys a better chance at exploiting opposing defenses that are focused on slowing down Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott.
Along with youngster Michael Gallup, the Cowboys would have a trio of wide receivers capable of pushing quarterback Dak Prescott to an even higher level of efficiency in the future. Even without a first-round pick, Dallas should be in the mix to select Samuel in the second or third round.