The 2019 NFL Draft is nearly here and perhaps you’d like to get to know a bit about some possible targets of the Buffalo Bills. The additions of Cole Beasley and John Brown have bolstered the wide receiver room, but more receiving help is expected, possibly via the draft. Let’s take a minute and see what everyone is saying about former South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Tyshun “Deebo” Samuel.
Deebo Samuel enters the 2019 NFL Draft after his senior season with the South Carolina Gamecocks. Samuel saw some success in all four years with the Gamecocks, but his first three seasons were limited due to injury. A standout final year saw 62 receptions for 882 yards (14.2 yards per catch) and 11 touchdowns. Samuel also got in work as a kick returner, averaging 29 yards per return in his college career and four touchdowns.
The only red flags surrounding Deebo Samuel are related to his injury history. In his freshman year, hamstring injuries contributed to Samuel seeing time in only five games. Hamstring injuries were again a problem his sophomore year. A broken fibula during his junior year limited Samuel to time in only three games. His breakout senior season was in no small part thanks to it being his only fully healthy one.
Except for hand size and weight, Deebo Samuel is definitely a smaller wide receiver. Landing in the bottom-third for height and wingspan, his large hands and above-average weight stand out all the more. Comparisons often refer to his physique as closer to that of a running back.
From a physical performance standpoint, the sub-par 3-cone drill is the only blemish. Deebo Samuel is an above-average athlete for his position in spite of his more “stocky” frame. For more insight into his speed, Samuel ran a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash.
Deebo Samuel’s speed reportedly translates quite well when he’s wearing pads. Additionally, he’s generally praised for his route running and versatility. His smaller size didn’t hold him back from playing on the outside in college, though it could become a more significant barrier in the NFL. Samuel is considered fearless and physical. Some reports hint that Samuel looks for contact rather than avoiding it. His low and solid frame help him run through arm tackles and he’s considered a yards-after-catch threat as he fights for yards.
For weaknesses, adequate or even good speed is not the same thing as deep speed. For Samuel, the general opinion is that he lacks that deep speed. Samuel’s height and shorter wingspan decrease his catch radius significantly. Injury concerns are often brought up as a negative for Samuel. While his athleticism is solid, the toll of repeat lower-body injuries are problematic. Deebo Samuel is considered a willing blocker, but inconsistent. Lance Zierlein sees Samuel as a second-round prospect just on the outside of “Should become instant starter” with an NFL Prospect Grade of 5.96.
Deebo Samuel profiles as a jack-of-all-trades receiver with an unusually small and stocky frame. Not exactly a slot receiver, Samuel’s versatility and above-average athleticism would be attractive to most teams, but especially those used to spreading the ball around with mix-and-match players. The Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and...cough, cough...New England Patriots would be able to find a way to get Samuel involved with little difficulty.
For the Buffalo Bills, they did appear to philosophically shift toward small and fast as their receiver paradigm in the later stages of the 2018 season. Deebo Samuel would be a good fit with newcomers John Brown and Cole Beasley. With his physical measurements creating an odd mix of speed and tank, the best Buffalo Bills comparison might be former Bill, Robert Woods.
Samuel also checks two more boxes: The Bills had him in for a pre-draft visit and he fits all the criteria for their Senior Bowl preferences, outlined in this article.