Jaylen Samuels did it all on offense for NC State. Can his rare talent translate to the next level?
The Sports Quotient’s annual Draft Preview series returns! Over the course of the eight weeks leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This week, we dive into the tight end position. Today, we look at Jaylen Samuels from NC State University.
After a polished career at Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he played both running back and wide receiver, Samuels decided to stay in-state and continue his football career at NC State University. A gifted player, destined to play multiple positions on offense, Samuels was converted into a tight end/running back-hybrid upon his arrival at NC State and did not disappoint in his expanded role.
The two-star recruit’s playing time was limited as a freshman, as he finished with just six receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown receiving, while also collecting 15 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Perhaps his best performance that year was in the Wolfpack’s bowl game (the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl), where he recorded three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. The impressive stat line earned Samuels increased playing time for the remainder of his collegiate career, and he quickly became one of the best offensive threats in the ACC.
#Eagles #2018NFLDraft— Matt Anzio 365 Scout (@MAnzio77) March 15, 2018
Prospect Rising ⬆⬆
H-Back Jaylen Samuals, #NCST
Perfect fit, blocks like a FB, Runs like a big 3rd down back and catches like a TE. His reach is long as guys inches taller. @Eaglesnest365@KFerg290 @EaglesWinItAll https://t.co/SH224iewm6
Samuels severely elevated his play during his sophomore season, finishing with 65 catches for 597 yards receiving, 368 yards on 56 carries (6.6 yards per carry) rushing, and 16 total touchdowns (seven receiving, nine rushing). His 65 receptions were the most among tight ends in the country, and that feat, combined with his effectiveness as a running back, earned him the Torry Holt Award, given to the team’s most valuable offensive player.
Samuels’ numbers dipped a bit in all three categories during his junior season, where he accumulated 55 catches for 565 yards receiving, 33 carries for 189 yards rushing, and 13 total touchdowns (seven receiving, six rushing). However, he responded well as a senior, finishing with a whopping 76 catches for 597 yards receiving, 403 yards on 77 carries rushing, and 16 total touchdowns (four receiving, 12 rushing). His impressive senior season put him on the map for NFL scouts and increased his draft stock as a dynamic offensive weapon.
Samuels offers a unique skill set as a true all-purpose player. His exceptional versatility is what draws attention from scouts and coaches, who should be thrilled with his ability to play any position, with the exception of quarterback or offensive line, on offense. Samuels showcased his capability as a running back, as his size propelled him to 28 rushing touchdowns during his four years at NC State. Moreover, he possesses quick feet (4.54 40-yard dash at 2018 NFL combine) and elite agility, making him a matchup nightmare for opposing linebackers.
PFF) January 25, 2018
Jaylen Samuels can line up at tight end, slot receiver or running back. Here’s Samuels as a receiver. Look at the vision and the jets to turn up field. pic.twitter.com/Tr56BKLDR8— Cameron Parker (@CameronParkerPO) February 18, 2018
Samuels also has a knack for making tacklers miss in the open field and excels in avoiding arm tackles with his active hands. Furthermore, he has a great feel for the game, and has been praised for his intelligence both on and off the field.
Jaylen Samuels adds another TD to his career numbers. Pack up 26-7 pic.twitter.com/IIO7aNQ0dd— Pack Pride (@PackPride) September 30, 2017
While Samuels is one of the more exciting offensive players in this draft class as a complete Swiss Army knife, there are some concerns with him lacking a true position. Should he decide to remain at tight end, he would severely undersized, as the average height for an NFL tight end is 6’3. Samuels is 5’11 and would struggle physically against the bigger and stronger linebackers and safeties that the NFL has to offer.
His route running has raised some concerns, as he lacks the ability to consistently make sharp cuts as a receiver or running back. In addition, because of his limited route tree and undersized stature, Samuels doesn’t have the best hands and struggles to pull in throws outside his frame. To be an effective receiver at 5’11”, he will surely need to improve in these areas.
Yikes, bad concentration drop from Jaylen Samuels. Have to secure the catch before making any decisions to move downfield. pic.twitter.com/SRLPjSgwzs— Cagen Cantrell (@CeeingTheDraft) January 26, 2018
In today’s NFL, versatility is key, and Samuels is one of the more versatile players at his position, as well as in the entire class. Although he is undersized and lacks a definite position, Samuels is a rare, natural talent on offense. Consequently, he can be an effective every-down, hybrid-type player at the next level.
Samuels doesn’t wow anyone with any particular attribute, but rather his potential to play multiple positions in the NFL. He’s not going to be a hot commodity in the first couple rounds; however, he could be an attractive option in the fourth or fifth round for teams in need of an offensive playmaker, such as the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, or San Francisco 49ers.
Edited by Jazmyn Brown.
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