The New York Jets don’t necessarily need to take a wide receiver in the early rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft. But there’s no such thing as having too many playmakers.
The Jets said goodbye to veteran receiver Brandon Marshall this offseason and appear content with giving youngsters Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Charone Peake and Jalin Marshall an extended look alongside veteran Eric Decker.
However, a loaded receiving class will give the Jets an opportunity to add more young talent to this budding unit. While there isn’t a wide receiver worth taking at No. 6 overall, Gang Green might be compelled to at least consider possible options in the second and third rounds.
That’s where Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel will likely factor into the equation. Samuel, a Brooklyn native, might become a modern day version of Percy Harvin. He lined up all over the field for the Buckeyes last season and was an all-purpose asset out of the backfield and split out wide. He carried the ball 97 times for 771 yards and scored 8 rushing touchdowns while hauling in 74 passes for 865 yards and 7 touchdown receptions. He’s a big play threat and had 18 plays of at least 20 yards during his final season at Ohio State.
To put that into perspective, Harvin racked up 1,304 yards and 17 touchdowns on 110 total touches during his final season with the Florida Gators.
The Jets took a flier on Harvin in 2014 and he produced underwhelming returns. But that was on a team dearth with playmakers with a coaching staff that had no idea how to use him in the final years of his career. Could Samuel be a fit with the Jets? Let’s take a closer look:
How he’s rated:
ESPN.com: No. 5 receiver, No. 41 overall prospect
CBSSports.com: No. 4 receiver, No. 42 overall prospect
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah: No. 5 running back, No. 40 overall prospect
NFL Combine results
40-yard dash: 4.31 seconds (second-fastest among receivers)
Vertical jump: 37 inches
3-cone drill: 7.09 seconds
NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein: “Jack-of-all trades but master of none, Samuel showed an ability to gain yardage and create scoring opportunities in a variety of ways on a talented Buckeyes offense. However, NFL teams will want to slot him into a more defined role, which is most likely at receiver. He is still learning the position and has separation quickness to create open throwing lanes, but while he’s sharpening his route work, he could find early reps as a kick returner.”
Matt Barbato’s take:
Samuel feels like the offensive version of Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers: He can do a lot of things, but can he do one thing particularly well. That’s the question I sought to answer in this evaluation.
Samuel lined up primarily as Ohio State’s H-back and a slot receiver, similar to how Enunwa is used with the Jets. However, Samuel is probably too small to play the H-back role in the NFL, which involves more blocking than in the college ranks.
Samuel’s 4.31 40-yard dash time isn’t a fluke. He’s awfully swift in pads too and uses his speed to maneuver around defenders with ease. The Buckeyes utilized Samuel on outside runs often and simply let him out-run defenders to the edge. Don’t get in a foot race with Samuel, or this might happen.
Samuel finds a way across the edge and avoids a couple of Oklahoma defenders even though the play isn’t blocked perfectly. If Samuel gets to the edge unabated, it typically goes for six.
Heres another example of why it’s wise to seal the edge when Samuel’s lined up in the backfield. This play probably cost Michigan a spot in the College Football Playoff.
This isn’t much of a surprise, but Samuel is also a handful in the open field. This play against Michigan is just his most incredible example of how tough he is to bring down even when a play is perfectly schemed against.
Samuel’s speed is tantalizing, but it’s fair to wonder where his optimal fit is at the next level. He doesn’t possess a very diverse route tree and mainly traveled down the seam or over the middle on his routes. He’s not a true running back and isn’t a guy who could handle a workload of 15 carries per game at 5-foot-11, 196 pounds. He also isn’t an adept blocker, which completely rules him out for the H-back role.
Samuel has relatively reliable hands when the ball is placed right where it needs to be, but he doesn’t have an rangy catch radius and doesn’t adjust well to badly thrown balls. However, Samuel’s first step typically allows him to gain separation off the snap, an important trait for slot guys. Some good coaching could develop him into a very solid receiver.
The Jets could use more productive, game-changing talents. Samuel could be the monster out of the slot that Devin Smith has yet to be come, plus he can serve as a multi-functional swiss army knife who will be a matchup nightmare if used properly.
The problem is he’s mainly a speedster without a ton of polish as a receiver. Any team that drafts him will have to coach him into a more diverse route runner, but he could prove to be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. The Jets should start thinking about finding a true No. 1 receiver, but Samuel doesn’t exactly fit that bill.