The San Francisco 49ers will likely be looking to add a wide receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft, and South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel could be on the Niners’ radar on day two.
No San Francisco 49ers wide receiver crested 500 pass-catching yards in 2018. Needless to say, this is almost a guaranteed position of need for head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Niners, who select No. 2 overall this April, probably won’t use their first pick on a wide receiver. With their second pick (No. 36 overall), however, it becomes more of a likelihood.
One day-two prospect to keep an eye on is South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel, whom Shanahan coached on the South roster during the 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
At 6-foot-10 and 210 pounds, Samuel is a nice compromise between size and speed. Shanahan hasn’t always put high priorities on big-bodied wideouts, instead preferring route running and speed. Fortunately, Samuel has that, too.
During Senior Bowl practice week, Samuel ended up being one of both squad’s fastest players on the field:
Speed is one thing. But after the 49ers finished with the NFL’s worst red-zone offense last year, Shanahan will also be looking for the elusive separation in confined spaces.
Samuel showed this in practice as well, courtesy of NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco:
Samuel enjoyed a breakout 2018 campaign for the Gamecocks, totaling 62 receptions for 882 yards and a notable 11 touchdowns, far eclipsing any production he had his previous three years at South Carolina.
The question is, though, whether or not he’ll carry that over to the NFL level.
Like 49ers tight end George Kittle, Samuel is excellent with the ball in his hands after the catch. With Shanahan’s West Coast offense frequently using shorter sideline-to-sideline passes, a player like Samuel should be able to thrive picking up those extra yards after the catch.
One of the reasons, as shown in the Maiocco tweet above, is Samuel’s route-running abilities and separation are very good. Paired with Shanahan’s play calling, one can see how Samuel would be a dynamic threat if targeted in the NFL Draft by San Francisco.
Samuel’s hands are good enough, although he’ll need to rely more on getting open than fighting for 50-50 balls. Fortunately, that asset isn’t something Shanahan typically looks for.
The question is, now, where Samuel falls on draft day.
Despite having a strong start to the Senior Bowl, including a 15-yard reception on a slant during the first play from scrimmage, Samuel probably winds up peaking in Round 2. Depending on what happens at the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine, he probably slips no lower than the end of the second round.
If he falls into Round 3, it would be an absolute gift.
Shanahan being able to coach Samuel leading up to the Senior Bowl is another gift, though. And if the Niners wind up using their second-round NFL Draft pick on him, look for Samuel to be another dynamic threat in one of the more potentially potent offenses in the league this year.