Deebo Samuel didn’t have a lot to say when he met with the media at the NFL Combine on Friday.
He expects to communicate a lot more on the field Saturday. That’s when the former South Carolina football wide receiver will join the rest of the wideouts here on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium to run the 40-yard dash and showcase their route-running and pass-catching abilities.
“I’m just blessed to be here, just to be able to go out there and keep playing the game I love,” Samuel said. “It’s kind of sinking in a little bit, just being blessed to be here coming from where I came from. I am just embracing the time we have here and making the best of it.”
Asked how he expected his 40 to go, Samuel responded only “fast.” How fast?
“Pretty fast,” he said.
The 5-foot-11, 214-pound Inman native caught 148 passes for 2,076 yards in 30 career games at South Carolina, 27 of which were starts. He also amassed 1,219 yards in kickoff returns and 154 rushing yards. In total, he scored 27 touchdowns, including an SEC-record four on kickoff returns.
Samuel is rated the fifth-best wide receiver in the draft by WalterFootball.com and the seventh by CBSSports.com. WalterFootball projected he will be a second round pick of the Indianapolis Colts, while NBCSports.com predicts he’ll be a third round selection by the New England Patriots.
“For the NFL, Samuel could be a solid No. 2 or 3 receiver,” according to WalterFootball.com. “He could work out of the slot or line up on the outside. With his quickness and athleticism, Samuel is tough to cover. He has a running back build which hurts him somewhat, but he does bring added value with special teams returning skills. During the 2019 NFL Draft, Samuel could be a good value on the second day.”
Samuel himself doesn’t have a solid idea of where he might be picked and insisted Friday that isn’t overly important to him.
“Whichever round the team decides to pick me in,” he said.
Samuel met with the Patriots on his first day in Indianapolis, and like all the other teams here, they discussed him playing the slot or outside receiver positions. Samuel tries to model his game after wide receiver Golden Tate, he said, and Tate has also been linked to the Patriots this offseason in free agency talks. Tate often lines up in the slot receiver position.
“Inside or outside, it really doesn’t matter,” Samuel said. “I was taught growing up every time I touch the ball try to get the ball in the end zone so that’s my mindset.”
Samuel, who had six touchdowns in three games in 2017 before suffering a season-ending injury, had 475 receiving yards in South Carolina’s final four regular season games of the 2018 season, including 210 yards against Clemson in what he calls his best game.
“Just overall, we dominated their secondary as a whole offense and went out there and made every play that came out way,” he said. “At the beginning of the year I was still a little rusty and then you can see from the Missouri game until the end of the season, you see a whole different player.”
He also said he doesn’t regret his decision to skip South Carolina’s Belk Bowl appearance in order to get a jump on NFL preparation. He excelled in the Senior Bowl one month after the Gamecocks’ bowl game.
“I went out there and tried to make every play that I could,” he said.
He plans to do the same thing on the field here Saturday.
How To Watch NFL Combine
The NFL Network will carry player drills live and highlights through Monday. Here’s the schedule:
7 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Review of Friday workouts
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Live coverage of quarterback, wide receiver and tight end drills
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Highlights and review
6 a.m. to 9 a.m. – Review of Saturday workouts
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Live coverage of defensive line and linebacker drills
4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Highlights and review
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. – Live coverage of defensive back drills
8 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Highlights and review