USC Gamecocks Football

Deebo Samuel making NFL history even before he’s drafted

Deebo Samuel was drafted into the NFL on Friday night, getting taken by the San Francisco 49ers.

He let plenty of people be a part of his big night. Bleacher Report purchased the rights to Samuel’s draft weekend content and will have live coverage and highlights on all its platforms, Samuel said Thursday.

“They are with me now,” the former South Carolina wide receiver said Thursday afternoon. “It just feels normal.”

The deal appears to be the first of its kind.

“Wonder if future is of other players selling exclusive rights. Would ESPN/NFL Network pay for the right people?” sports business reporter Darren Rovell tweeted on Thursday afternoon.

The NFL Draft began with Thursday night’s first round in Nashville, Tennessee. Only one wide receiver, Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry, was selected in the first round. The second round beings at 7 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

Samuel, who had 2,076 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns and also returned four kicks for touchdowns during a four-year career at South Carolina, could be picked in the first round, according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper. Samuel declined to say where and when he thought he’d be picked but said he had a good feeling.

“I think I do know,” he said.

Samuel told the NFL Network on Monday that he had visited or planned to visit New England, Cincinnati, Dallas, New Orleans, Tennessee, San Francisco and Buffalo.

After his visit to the Patriots, he shared a message for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on Instagram, saying in a video, “Hey Billy, I’ll see you in a month, my man.”

The Patriots took Harry with the 32nd pick. Samuel could be a fit for the Green Bay Packers with the 44th overall pick, ESPN’s Mel Kiper said last week.

NFL Draft TV schedule

Thursday, 8 p.m., Round 1: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network and ESPN Deportes

Friday, 7 p.m., Rounds 2-3: ABC, ESPN/ESPN2, NFL Network and ESPN Deportes

Saturday, noon, Rounds 4-7: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network and ESPN Deportes

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Josh Kendall has covered SEC football for almost 20 years. He has covered the Gamecocks since the 2010 season. Have a question? Shoot him an email or find him on Twitter, and he’ll be happy to respond.