“I wouldn’t count him out for the late first,” Kiper said Monday. “I think that’s a possibility.”
The draft begins with Thursday night’s first round in Nashville, Tenn. The second and third rounds will be held Friday night, and rounds four through seven will be held Saturday.
Samuel is expected to be the first Gamecock selected this year. He had 2,076 career receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns at South Carolina. He also had four kickoff return touchdowns.
“It’s a great second round group of receivers, and he’s probably right near the top of that group,” Kiper said. “I think Deebo is a solid two.”
Samuel recently visited the New England Patriots, who hold the final pick of the first round, and posted an Instagram video from Boston in which he said, “See you in a month, Billy,” in a nod to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
“We had a pretty good conversation when I was there,” Samuel said on NFL Total Access on the NFL Network. “You can put me anywhere out there on the field.”
If Samuel makes it to the second round, Arizona (33rd overall pick), Green Bay (44th) and Washington (46th) are possible landing spots, Kiper said. The last South Carolina wide receiver selected in the first round was Troy Williamson, who went seventh overall in 2005. The Gamecocks have had five first round selections since then -- cornerback Johnathan Joseph in 2006, defensive end Melvin Ingram and cornerback Stephon Gilmore in 2012, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in 2014 and tight end Hayden Hurst last season.
Kiper also believes South Carolina offensive lineman Dennis Daley could be picked as early as the fourth round of the draft. Offensive lineman Zack Bailey, linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams and cornerback Rashad Fenton have a chance to be late round picks, Kiper said.
“They are going to have some guys drafted other than Deebo Samuel, but most of those guys are going to be third day picks,” Kiper said.
Hurst was the only Gamecock drafted last season. The last time South Carolina only had two players drafted in back-to-back seasons was 1993 and 1994 when offensive linemen Ernest Dye and Corey Louchiey were the only draft picks.