Curtis Samuel made his living in college as a master of utility. In 2016, he was the only player in college football to amass more than 700 yards receiving as well as 700 yards rushing. On top of the offensive output, he was effective in the return game.
Over three seasons at Ohio State, Samuel racked up an astounding 2,535 all-purpose yards. That kind of all-around skill can be valuable to a team that needs rookies to contribute right away.
Strengths: Samuel is as dynamic of an athlete as they come. At the combine he posted a time of 4.31 in the 40 yard dash, placing second only to the record-breaking time of John Ross. His elusive speed is part of the reason scouts are optimistic about his transition into an NFL receiver.
Lance Zierlein at NFL.com had this to say about Samuel:
"Has crisp feet for sudden change of direction. Long-strider with deep speed to challenge press coverage over the top…Can ramp it back up to top gear quickly after tapping his brakes in space. At his best when matched up in open space. Gets faster and more dangerous as the play unfolds…Moveable matchup piece."
Weaknesses: Samuel may be one of the fastest players in the draft but he is still rather unpolished. While versatility is one of his strengths, evaluators also consider it to be a weakness. The constant position swapping in college made it difficult for him to master one position. He is good at many things but not elite at any given one.
On weaknesses Zierlein had this to say:
"Needs to work on release against press. Could get hung up off the line and into his routes by athletic, press-cover slot men. Has unnatural hands that fight the throw. Will default to body catches. Didn’t have as many “pro-style” touches as teams would like…Average ball-tracking and adjustments to poor throws. Wasn’t asked to handle blocking responsibilities very often."
The overlying concern is how to use his skill set. Samuel is versatile but draft picks are typically reserved for guys with a bread and butter competency in some facet of the game. Samuel is not that guy.