Know Your Prospect: Deebo Samuel, South Carolina's gritty receiver who fits the Shanahan mold

It's draft season and it's time to get acquainted with some potential future 49ers

Tommy Call
April 08, 2019 - 11:29 pm

We’re officially inside one month away from  the 2019 NFL Draft and 95.7 The Game’s “Know Your Prospect” series is underway. Over the next few weeks we will highlight some of the top players, best fits and names you should know for the 2019 draft class. With Jimmy Garoppolo coming back from injury and pressure building for John Lynch in year three the 49ers desperately need to put together a draft haul that can make an impact day one.

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Deebo Samuel, Wide Receiver, South Carolina

Height: 5'11

Weight: 214 lbs

2018 Stats: 62 REC, 882 YDS, 11 REC TD

Other Stats: 4 CAREER RETURN TD, 7 CAREER RUSHING TD

40-Yard Dash: 4.48

 

Grit:

You can reference different plays at South Carolina that demonstrate a case of Samuel's evident toughness or the fact that he was a team captain. Instead, a personal story: I got to meet Samuel in Mobile, Alabama at the Reese Senior Bowl and he had a presence about him that even in a room full of some of the top prospects in the country Samuel seemed like the alpha.

He radiated confidence while being stern and commanding. That was just in the interview portion at the start of Senior Bowl week, when he got to the field Samuel again proved he was the best player. He cooked several players off the line of scrimmage with his footwork. When players tried to press him, Samuel embarassed them, when players tried to sag off, he scored with ease. There was no official stats from Senior Bowl practices, but my unofficial scorecard had Samuel as the touchdown leader throughout the week.

On the field, Samuel is a tough as they come. If the football field was a battle royale, Samuel would be the guy to avoid. As a runner he’ll put his shoulder down and bang with anyone who comes down his road. His on field play demonstrates his physical style which is surprising from a sub 6-ft wide receiver. The 49ers lost a dose of grit with the departure of Pierre Garcon this offseason, but Samuel could be the remedy.

Route Runner:

Samuel is a powerful route runner who can be dynamic off the line of scrimmage. His chattery feet don’t stop when he’s on the field. Samuel comes in and out of his routes with burst that allows him to create space when needed.

Samuel was used in a bevy of ways for the Gamecocks that allowed him to show off his route tree. Inside or out, Samuel could get open. We know how much 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan values polished route running and Samuel might be one of the best this class has to offer.

YAC-God:

Samuel dealt with inconsistent quarterback play while at South Carolina. So, when he got the football he made the most out of it.

Samuel has an elite blend of vision and power as a runner. Saying he’s a receiver who runs like a running back doesn’t do Samuel justice. Samuel is a dangerous return man who took four returns to the house during his career. The field just opens up for Samuel and when someone gets in Samuel’s way he makes them miss.

Samuel forced 21 missed tackles on 62 receptions last season according to Pro Football Focus. Samuel posted one of the highest missed tackle rates in the entire draft class on the Pro Football Focus scale. Samuel also rushed for seven career touchdowns at South Carolina. Samuel demonstrates his aforementioned toughness as a runner. He’ll barrell through contact while still running stride for stride. His balance off contact might be one of Samuel’s most impressive traits. With Garoppolo’s ability to throw players open underneath and the 49ers desperate need for a playmaker, Samuel needs to be on the club's radar.

Round Grade: Early Round 2

Position Rank: 4

NFL Comparison: Golden Tate

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