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As the NFL draft inches closer with each passing day, many fantasy gamers find themselves asking a common question; “What position/role will Curtis Samuel find himself in at the next level?” Unfortunately, that question will likely go unanswered until his name is called at the draft in late April.

The Measurables

Samuel’s obvious blazing speed was validated at the NFL combine, where he ran a face-melting 4.31 40-yard dash. The Ohio State product was also able to flash an above-average burst score. However, he was severely lacking in the agility drills. Samuel also measured in at only 5’11” and 196 lbs. While it’s not uncommon anymore to see productive wide receivers who are under 6 feet tall, it is uncommon to see players with a low body-mass index (BMI) sustain long-term durability or long-term consistency in fantasy football.

College Production

In Samuel’s final season at Ohio State, he was able to compile 1,500+ all-purpose yards to go along with 15 total touchdowns. His production split does not help formulate an idea of how he may be used in the NFL. His yardage and touchdowns were virtually split down the middle, posting 7.9 YPC and 11.7 YPR. While a 7.9 YPC is well above-average for running backs, 11.7 YPR ranks in the 12th percentile among wide receivers.

Now, there are some not necessarily threatening factors that could have contributed to such a low total. Many of Samuel’s receptions came out of the backfield, rather than running routes downfield. A large portion of these came on short receptions out of the slot in hopes that he could out-maneuver defenders for big chunks of yardage. It should be clear to anyone who plays fantasy football on a regular basis at this point that the NFL is an ever-evolving entity, and some of the league’s premier playmakers are of a similar body-type to Samuel, so his potential for production will likely boil down to what system he lands in.

Where do the signs point?

Samuel was listed as a wide receiver on Ohio State’s depth chart during his tenure. He was often used as a gadget player that could take advantage of a spread-out defense when given space. With the emergence of players like Jarvis Landry, O’Dell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks, etc., the strongest case could be made that the former Buckeye will spend his time catching passes out wide, especially due to the fact that his low BMI would imply a higher injury risk if used primarily out of the backfield. We haven’t seen running backs under the 200lb threshold hold up well over the course of a 16 game season.

It’s unlikely that being handed the ball will be Samuel’s primary duty. Especially seeing that a somewhat high draft capital will need to be invested in acquiring the speedster. Having him repeatedly tackled by monstrous defensive lineman doesn’t seem like a logical way to protect an investment. As of right now, all signs are pointing to Samuel being strictly a wide receiver who will take his fair share of jet-sweeps, as well as racking up large chunks of yards after the catch in the middle of the field.

Success of comparable players

Samuel is currently being compared to players like Percy Harvin, Tyreek Hill, and Taylor Gabriel. Cordarrelle Patterson’s name has been thrown around too, but Patterson is larger than Samuel, measuring at 6’2″ and 216lbs. We’ve seen Percy Harvin have successful seasons, we’ve seen Taylor Gabriel flash some impressive abilities, and we’ve seen Tyreek Hill wreak havoc on some of the NFL’s stingiest defenses (Tyreek wreak havoc. Get it?) So what it really boils down to is that Samuel is a largely situation-dependent player. The type of player that is going to have to have a coach that wants to get the ball in his hands, and wants to design plays that are meant to give Samuel the best chance to break big plays.

We’ve seen Andy Reid be more than willing to design plays for Tyreek Hill, and Percy Harvin has been the focal point of systems before. Taylor Gabriel has never really given us hope that he could be a player who fantasy gamers can rely on. Even Patterson, who looks much more like a prototypical NFL receiver has struggled to remain on the fantasy radar. So what makes Curtis Samuel different from every other hybrid/speedster that hasn’t necessarily panned out? Well, we likely won’t know if he is any different until we see him on an NFL field, competing against NFL talent. Either way, whether you love him or hate him, the odds of Samuel ever being a valuable dynasty asset certainly seem to be stacked against him.

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