PRO 2017 Dynasty Rookie Spotlight: Curtis Samuel, WR Ohio State

Curtis Samuel, WR Ohio State
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 196
Arm: 31 1/2″
Hand: 9 1/2″

40-yard dash: 4.31 (combine)
NFL comparison: Golden Tate, Bruce Ellington, Dante Hall

– was one of the most unique skill-players in college football during 2016 as he played both RB and WR in sort of an H-back or flanker-type role where he’d get the football as a running back or as a receiver from a variety of alignments ranging from inline to flexed to out wide

– became one of the main cogs of the Ohio State offense once Ezekiel Elliott left town; was not used heavily for his first two seasons; left OSU after his junior season

– if John Ross wouldn’t have broken the combine 40-record, Samuel’s 4.31 would have been the buzz of Indy and possibly the draft season

– breakaway burner speed; give him a little space to get upfield and he’ll fly; vision as a runner (sometimes between the tackles) gives him unique vision for identifying space in the open field

– a twitchy jitterbug with more substance to him physically than you would think by the eyeball test alone in the mold of a Golden Tate

– has the famous Odell Beckham “take-a-quick-slant-to-the-house” game-breaking ability; did this exact things numerous times during the 2016 season as a collegiate athlete

– doesn’t have elite hands but does possess a nice ability to adjust to the football and see it in; flexible to the catch-point; can let the ball into his body with relatively high frequency and can make receptions harder than they are with wonky framing

– well above recent combine averages (last five seasons) in the vertical leap (37″) and the bench press (18 reps); coupled with the 40-time, these tests put an exclamation point on the explosiveness witnessed on-field

– needs a lot of work as a route-runner; very raw and lacks polish; wastes motion into and out of cuts and is much more explosive than he is smooth

– graded out among the worst in our annual NFL combine WR on-field drill performance scores (No. 42 out of 55); likely a result of him not getting to focus on one position and refine skills specifically to it in college; although he was a versatile offensive weapon, his skillset was not developed in ways conducive to mastering NFL-centric play principles with skill-specific training; in short, it’s a bit difficult pegging exactly how he fits in an NFL offense

Fantasy Outlook:
He’s one of the biggest wild cards in this draft class. His lack of polish and easily identified transferable, functional traits to the NFL level from a position-specific standpoint bring a bit more speculation into the equation with Samuel than with others. He has electric speed and is good at a lot of things, but not really great at any one. We think he’ll almost surely be a WR at the NFL level, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that a team takes Samuel thinking they’ve landed a possibly elite runner/receiver in the mold of a Theo Riddick or a Dion Lewis. As we know, these kinds of weapons, when used by a team their best potential, can be gold in PPR setups which most dynasty leagues are. Given Samuel’s current late 2nd/early 3rd round dynasty ADP pre-NFL draft, we have no problem taking a stab on him for that kind of later-round equity in traditional 4-round rookie drafts. With the right team fit, Samuel actually represents a player with one of the higher upsides in a deep WR class.

From the Ohio State Athletic Department:

2016 Season (Junior): First Team All-America by the Associated Press and The Sporting News … Second Team selction by the FWAA and Fox Sports … was a finalist for the Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football award … first team All-Big Ten conference receiver … ranked second in the Big Ten in receptions (65), yards (822) and receiving touchdowns (7) … has 704 rushing yards and 7 additional touchdowns and is the only player in the nation with at least 700 rushing and 700 receiving yards … leads the Buckeys with 1,546 all-purpose yards, ranking first in the Big Ten with 128.8 ypg … team-high 17 plays of 20 or more yards … leads the team with 15 total TDs, eight rushing, seven receiving … second in the Big Ten with 65 receptions … scored the game-winning TD in the second overtime to help Ohio State defeat Michigan and earn a spot in the 2016 CFP … recorded four catches for 40 yards and a TD in the win at MSU … caught five passes for 74 yards and a TD and rushed for 38 yards and two scores in the road win at Maryland … caught eight passes for 137 yards and two TDs in the win over No. 10 Nebraska, including a 75-yarder … also rushed for 41 yards to earn Big Ten co-offensive player of the week honors vs. the Huskers … recorded eight receptions for 68 yards and added a career-long 74-yard TD run at Penn State, the longest rush by a Buckeye this season … seven receptions for 68 yards and seven carries for 31 yards and a score vs. Northwestern … rushed for 46 yards and caught a team-high six passes for 58 yards in the overtime win at Wisconsin … rushed for 98 yards, including a 36-yard TD run on 4th-and-1 in the win at Oklahoma … 82 yards on the ground and a score vs. Indiana … had himself a day in the season opener vs. Bowling Green with 261 total yards and three TDs on 84 yards rushing and a career-high 177 yards through the air, including a 79-yard slant for a TD in the first quarter … totaled three plays of 20+ yards … had 140 all-purpose yards in the win over Tulsa.

Quotable from the Combine:

(what do you have to show nfl scouts here?)

Definitely just being here and playing receiver, I definitely have to show them I can run good routes and also catch the ball. That’s really the main thing I focused on coming into this combine.

(will you work out at running back too?)

No, I spent most of my time doing a lot of receiver work for the combine.

(do you feel like a full-time receiver now or feel like a hybrid)

Uh, I can’t say I feel like a full-time receiver still, just because of my running back background. I love to run the ball. I love to catch. I’d say I’m both. I’m still a hybrid.

(why are you here just as a receiver)

Just to show teams I can also catch the ball and also run those deep routes like the digs, the posts, the corners and also catch the deep ball.

(your choice)

No, the NFL chose what position they wanted me to play. It didn’t really matter to me whether it was running back or receiver. I was gonna go out there and put on a productive day.

(prepared for this)

I’m very prepared. I spent a lot of my time training at (XO???) in Arizona, just really working with some good people. I feel good coming into it.

(ht, wt)

5-10 (laughs), 196. (He was incorrect about his height, he measured in at 5’11” even)

(relationship with Michael Thomas)

I speak to Michael almost every day, just about different things to expect coming into this process. And also about route running and catching the ball and some ways I can improve my game. How good he did at the National Football League level, I wanted to take something from a guy like that.

(tell you about transition?)

Definitely. Just you have to sell your brand in the right way. When you’re in public, you’re always watched. You can’t go around doing the same college mistakes, because you’re in the National Football League now. The media’s everywhere. So just take care of yourself and sell your brand.

(why laughed at height)

I thought I was taller than 5-10. But that’s what they measured me at, so that’s what it is.

(196 good?)

196 through 198 is what I played. I definitely can weigh more.

(can you always fall back to RB and you don’t have to prove that?)

No, not at all. I just knew I was gonna play receiver for the combine and I had to work on my skills at receiver. But definitely after this process I’m going to be working both spots and still improving my game at receiver.

(tough decision to come out early?)

Definitely a tough decision to come out. I spoke to my parents every day, my coaches, my friends, everybody a part of the decision. It came down to the last day. I had mixed emotions about it coming all the way through. But I felt it was right for me to come out in the draft. I know I had a potential combine invite. I know I had a pro day. And I know I had a couple workouts with teams. I felt time was all I needed to show my talents off.

(have you and OSU teammate Noah Brown talked about this process)

NO, Noah worked out in florida, so we talked about some things to work on , just critiquing each other. We may do some stuff together in Columbus. I feel we both can be really great. Noah’s a terrific player, great guy, great hands, great body size.

(loss to Clemson influence you at all?)

I told myself no matter what the outcome was, that wasn’t going to affect my decision. So that didn’t really have too much of an impact whether to leave or stay. Whether we would have won the championship or not, that still wouldn’t have had an impact on my decision. I just felt it was the right time.

(you feel your versatility appeals to teams?)

Definitely. I just feel like I’m able to do so many things, which sets me apart from other guys. I feel the National Football League wants playmakers and different types of players. I feel I can catch and run the ball both and that’s helping me out a little more.

(a model in nfl for you?)

Not really. I just work on my game and just try to become a better player.

(there was always confusion about your position. You feel that way again?)

Uh, definitely here. When I first went to Ohio State, I wasn’t sure where I was gonna play. They put me at running back, I was happy with it. They moved me to receiver the next year, I was happy with it. So whatever step the coaches and the GMs, whatever role they want to put me in, I’m all for it. I’m going to give my very best at whatever position. I’m comfortable doing both. I’m happy playing running back. I’m happy playing receiver. I’m the type of guy, I just want the ball in my hands. Wherever that’s possible, I’m gonna go and make plays.

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