Curtis Samuel spent his career as a running back-receiver hybrid at Ohio State. But at the NFL Combine in February, he worked out strictly as a receiver, and his predraft preparation has revolved primarily around playing receiver.
This, he says, was not his choice.
“The NFL chose what position they wanted me to play,” Samuel explained. “It didn’t really matter to me whether it was running back or receiver. I was gonna go out there and put on a productive day.”
Samuel, 20, definitely did that. In running a blistering 4.31 40-yard dash, Samuel — who checked in at 5 feet 11 and 196 pounds — showed off the type of explosive, difference-making speed that, when paired with his versatility and production in college, could get him taken as high as the second round of this year’s NFL Draft.
Little wonder the Chiefs, who are looking for a big-play running back with receiving skills, had a formal interview with him at the combine.
“I can’t say I feel like a full-time receiver still, just because of my running back background,” Samuel said. “I love to run the ball. I love to catch. I’d say I’m both. I’m still a hybrid.”
That should be attractive to Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who loves versatility and explosion in running backs and receivers. Problem is, lots of other teams could use a player like Samuel, who caught 74 passes for 865 yards and seven touchdowns and also rushed 97 times for 771 yards (7.9 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns in 13 games in 2016.
“He’s a terrific player,” said NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks. “He’s very, very talented. I think the comparison that a lot of people would like to make is Percy Harvin, in terms of his ability to make an impact as an occasional running back, slot receiver and the return game.”
Samuel, who spent the first part of his career at Ohio State as a running back before moving to the H-back position he thrived in the last two years, knows he still has work to do as a receiver.
“Just to show teams I can also catch the ball and also run those deep routes like the digs, the posts, the corners and also catch the deep ball,” he said.
But if whichever team that drafts him decides they need him at running back, he’s good with that, too.
“When I first went to Ohio State, I wasn’t sure where I was gonna play — they put me at running back, I was happy with it, they moved me to receiver the next year, I was happy with it,” Samuel said. “So whatever step the coaches and the GMs, whatever role they want to put me in, I’m all for it. I’m going to give my very best at whatever position.”
2017 NFL Draft
Round 1: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 27
Rounds 2-3: 6 p.m. Friday, April 28
Rounds 4-7: 11 a.m. Saturday, April 29
2017 NFL DRAFT PREVIEW: RECEIVERS
Chiefs’ need at this position: Low. Between Jeremy Maclin, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, the Chiefs already have enough mouths to feed in the passing game. They’ve also invested developmental time the last few years in a pair of athletic mid-round picks in Chris Conley and Demarcus Robinson, while former undrafted free agent Albert Wilson knows the playbook and has been a useful player. Perhaps the Chiefs could use another weapon, if there’s good value to be had, but making this roster won’t be easy for a rookie this year, especially given the amount of time it takes to acclimate to Andy Reid’s playbook.
WR: Curtis Samuel showed he can be more than a receiver at Ohio State | rankings
OL: Story | rankings, to come
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| Terez A. Paylor, firstname.lastname@example.org