Exec: Deebo Samuel Elite in His Niche, but There Is a Reason He Was a 2nd-Round Pick

Adam WellsMay 6, 2022

INGLEWOOD, CA - JANUARY 30:  Deebo Samuel #19 of the 49ers during the NFC Conference Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams on January 30, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA. (Photo by Icon Sportswire)
Icon Sportswire

Deebo Samuel was named an All-Pro last season, but that doesn't mean everyone in the NFL views the star wide receiver as a top-tier player in the league. 

Speaking to The Athletic's Mike Sando, an executive from an opposing team called Samuel "elite in his niche, but there is a reason he was a second-round pick."

The executive added the San Francisco 49ers star "does not transcend scheme" and "there is some stiffness, some route limitations," though he did praise his run-after-the-catch ability. 

The notion of Samuel being a second-round pick as evidence that he's a limited player doesn't hold much water.

A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf were second-round picks and Terry McLaurin was a third-round pick in the same draft after Samuel went No. 36 overall to the 49ers. Players outperform their draft position all the time.

If you were to redo the 2019 draft today, odds are good Samuel would be selected in the first round. 

But there are limitations to Samuel's game that do make him more volatile than some of his fellow 2019 draftees. He has missed at least one game in each of his three NFL seasons because of injuries, including nine in 2020. 

Going back to his college days at South Carolina, Samuel missed 20 games in his first three seasons from 2015-17. 

Per ESPN's Bill Barnwell, Samuel fumbled four times on 136 touches and has dropped 18 passes on 165 targets in the past three seasons. 

Few teams have a head coach like Kyle Shanahan, who is capable of scheming up his best players to get them the ball in space and let them create after the catch or on running plays. 

Shanahan helped maximize Samuel's skill set last season by using him as a running back and wide receiver. The dual-position style may have played a part in why Samuel has been unhappy with the 49ers this offseason, but it also made him one of the most exciting players in the NFL. 

If the 49ers retain Samuel, perhaps he won't have to run the ball as much as he did in 2022. They have Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon on the roster. LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price was selected in the third round of the 2022 draft last week. 

Samuel racked up 1,770 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns on 136 touches in 16 games last season. The 26-year-old led the NFL with 18.2 yards per reception.