When you watched Deebo Samuel at the University of South Carolina, it was easy to fall in love with his big-play potential, and game-changing abilities. His game tape is much more revealing of the truth than his scouting combine measurables and tests. His numbers at the combine would suggest he’s a smaller guy, with limited strength and moves slowly for his size. That couldn’t be further from the tale of the tape. Shifty, quick, slashing, and strong are my first thoughts when watching him play.
Everything is Golden
Deebo catches the ball all over the field, multiple alignments, and routes, and he is a running back with the ball in his hands. The man is a load to bring down after the catch. He led the SEC with 600 YAC last season and brought a toughness to the receiving corps. He reminds me of a young Golden Tate. He also possesses the ability to return kicks. According to many draft experts, he doesn’t have breakaway speed, but he averaged over 14 yards per reception and 11 touchdowns last season.
The pre-draft scouting reports on both players their respective years were identical. Both Golden Tate in 2006 and Deebo Samuel in 2019 were regarded as the ultimate competitors with strong hands and will to win contested catches. Both are dangerous after the catch with a great ability to break tackles. Their open field abilities and field vision warrant their flexibility to return kicks and be game-changing threats on special teams.
When watching both guys play, I see the same style of receiver. They carry a big chip on their shoulders with a big dog mentality in a small dog’s body. Their playing style isn’t that of a Jordy Nelson, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks, Hunter Renfrow or many other smaller slot receivers. They aren’t trying to outrun defenders every play to make a living. They find ways to get open with the size, strength, and speed they possess.
Neither Deebo Samuel nor Golden Tate will be in any discussion about the fastest receivers anytime soon, but they aren’t the guy you’re expecting to take to top off any defense. Tate and Samuel are the receivers that are always being chased on the field. A headache for DCs and LBs. If not tackled immediately after the catch, the play is made by a pursuing DB with a proper angle over the top if not pay dirt. Not the one move and go speed, but the speed that outruns most players on the field if given a step.
Their value is heightened in down and distance situations, crossing through zones, mismatches with safeties and linebackers, and yards after the catch. These are the compact receivers willing to take on the defensive lineman in toughness drills. You shouldn’t expect these guys to score 60-yard touchdowns consistently, but at least once a game they’ll get you a 20-yard first down or a big effort play to energize the team. They are the momentum shifters in the game.
Where Deebo may lack in route running finesse and sharpness, Shanahan will alleviate the deficiency with alignments, matchups, and crossing patterns while he continues to groom and polish his route tree. His highlights may not show off a lot of running past defenders, but he will amass quite the catalog of toughness plays in between the numbers. His career may not be as well-rounded and fulfilled as Golden Tate in the end, but a dynamite fearlessness and relentlessness is what we can come to expect from Mr. Tyshun Deebo Samuel.