Josh Kendall

What Mel Kiper thinks of Deebo Samuel’s NFL draft stock

After a strong Senior Bowl week, Deebo Samuel has a chance to move into the first round of April’s NFL draft, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said Tuesday.

“He’s right in the mix to be a solid early to mid-second rounder,” Kiper said. “I wouldn’t count out late one. He’s got great versatility; he’s got great explosiveness.”

Samuel, a 6-foot, 210-pound Inman native, caught 62 passes for 862 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He started 27 of his 30 career games for the Gamecocks and had 148 catches for 2,076 yards and 16 touchdowns in his career. He also had seven rushing touchdowns and a school-record four kickoff returns for touchdown.

“I would say he doesn’t get past, at worst, the end of the second round,” Kiper said.

Samuel skipped the Gamecocks appearance in the Belk Bowl in order to prepare for the draft. He was named one of five offensive practice players of the week at the Senior Bowl.

“He was fantastic all week,”’s Lance Zierlein wrote. “He’s physical, well put together and runs good routes. Receivers get grabbed a ton out here at Senior Bowl practices. The corners are really grabby — things that are going to be penalties at the next level. Not only did he play through it, but a lot of times he worked himself wide open through his physicality inside the route and route acumen. He was smart in terms of how he got out of his breaks, and he caught everything that was thrown his way.”

Samuel will work out at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, Indiana, on March 2. South Carolina’s on-campus pro timing day is March 21.

Deebo Samuel draft projections

First round, No. 32 overall, New England, Will Brinson,

Second round, No. 46 overall, Washington, NFL DraftWire

Second round, No. 46 overall, Washington,

Second round, No. 53 overall, Philadelphia,

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.