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Senior Bowl 2019: 216-pound, dominant wide receiver Deebo Samuel

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When Deebo Samuel measured in at 5-foot-11 and 216 pounds, I immediately rose from the 7am slumber of Senior Bowl weigh ins. Samuel’s build, that of a running back, woke me far better than any coffee could have. Then the former South Carolina Gamecock showed himself to be the best player at the Senior Bowl.

The Seattle Seahawks love be aggressive in acquiring talent. That extends to the offensive side of the ball. There was taking Rashaad Penny in the first round. There was trading a first-round pick and starting Pro-Bowl center Max Unger for Jimmy Graham and a fourth-round pick. There was moving a first- and seventh-rounder for Percy Harvin in 2013; then signing him to a six-year, $67M contract with over $25M in guarantees.

Harvin is relevant. While he didn’t work out as a character in the locker room, his potential was so appealing to John Schneider and Pete Carroll—as evidenced by how much leeway they gave him. Samuel possesses similar abilities, he’s just built slightly bigger and therefore won’t test Harvin-stupid.

Samuel’s still a lightning ball of explosive energy and foot speed though. With his 216-pound size, Seattle could give him even more carries than Harvin received. He could take the wide zone gun stuff and end-arounds, like Harvin, but he could also carry some runs more typical of a running back. The change up from Chris Carson and Penny would be nasty.

Samuel took few carries in college, but in a more creative offense he would be able to thrive. His program-record four kickoff return touchdowns proves that Samuel has the navigation through traffic and vision to get it done. The special teams production also means he could help Tyler Lockett and Penny on kick return duty.

Samuel isn’t just some funky gadget player with nice measurables; he’s one hell of a receiver. In that sense, and given his build and frightening yards-after-catch ability, his role could be more Golden Tate-y. In 2018, Samuel led his team in receiving yards, receptions and receiving touchdowns. Down at the Senior Bowl, he was utterly dominant in pretty much every drill. In fact, he should have had more catches if it wasn’t for the poor quarterbacking talent on both rosters.

Samuel’s film in college was limited by bad quarterbacking too, courtesy of Jake Bentley.

Lockett was dinged for being too small to play on the perimeter and that’s worked out just fine. Given Samuel’s mass and ability to separate against press coverage, similar concerns of his ability to play outside should be dismissed. He can line up all over the offense. The possibilities are tantalizing.

Below, Samuel demonstrated his understanding of how to set a cornerback up. He pressed to reset the line of scrimmage. His foot speed was something that featured in every clip, but observe how RAPID it is. The defender was left unable to connect on his jam from the press alignment.

Samuel ruins defenders by reading their leverage so effectively. Here, he stuttered right, squared Rock Ya-Sin up and then jab stepped off his left foot once the defensive back had flipped his hips. Exploding down the sideline, Samuel was wide open. His release breaks the motor mirror technique that lots of NFL corners opt for, as the speed of his feet is impossible to match.

Samuel’s battle against Ya-Sin made for some entertaining viewing. Samuel won the war.

Notice the opening outside…

Down in the redzone, a tougher one-on-one for receivers given the tighter space, Samuel still thrived. Watch his clean cut and the way he sinks. This was an awesome whip route that was too quick off the line of scrimmage for Isaiah Johnson’s step-kick. Samuel then sold the slant.

His hands were marshmallow soft, catching everything.

Over the shoulder in the cover-2 honey hole:

High-pointing a fade (helped by his 32”+ arms):

The play speed of the absolute weapon showed up in practice and in Zebra tracking technology, which is encouraging given he looked slower in 2018 following a 2017 fracture of his fibula and a 2016 hamstring injury:

The speed is back!

From the press box watching the game, I focused solely on Samuel. He was open every single play. His dominance in Mobile will have raised his stock, and he was rightly named captain of the South’s receiver group and awarded wide receiver practice player of the week.

Nick Farabaugh provided a look at the sharpness and stutter nature of his routes in college:

This draft is absolutely stacked, particularly in the late first to second range. This makes Samuel’s slot somewhat difficult to predict. I’m adamant that there’s no way he will go later than the second and I’m equally certain that he’ll test well.

That makes the idea of Seattle drafting Samuel seem gravely irresponsible. They have more pressing needs such as EDGE and will likely be trading down multiple times from 01.21. Yet Samuel is exactly the type of player that Schneider and Carroll would fall in love with. His ability to quickly separate via opening angle, foot speed and head fakes is perfect for the Brian Schottenheimer’s offensive scheme, which places an emphasis on intermediate crossers and over routes. The dynamism and size would help fix the Seahawks’ disappointing YAC numbers too.

Seattle’s receiver group was weak last year, with Lockett the only consistent threat after Doug Baldwin played the year hurt. My Senior Bowl MVP, Samuel, would be a frightening and versatile dominator for Russell Wilson to enjoy. As stated, the Seahawks have a history with this kind of move…