To put it bluntly, NC State’s Jaylen Samuels is just a football player. He was the Wolfpack’s Jack of All Trades. A weapon that lined up as a wide receiver outside and in the slot and as a tailback. He caught passes, he carried the rock, but most of all, he scored touchdowns. He may not be great at any one thing except scoring. In 50 games, Samuels broke the plane 47 times.
Those numbers put him 6th in school history in touchdowns and 6th in receiving touchdowns. Regardless of where he lined up, he has had a nose for the end zone. In high school, he led his team to a 16-0 record and scored astonishingly every 2.8 times he touched the ball. So call him what you want, running back, fullback, H-back, or tight end, but just know that he makes a difference for an offense.
Samuels compared to other running backs
NFL.com and Pro Football Focus have him listed as a tight end
Regardless of where he lines up, or where he is drafted, he is going to be an asset to any game plan. So let’s take a look at what he does and doesn’t do well.
His first carry versus Louisville is an inside zone run. He presses the line of scrimmage and has two options. He may have picked the worse of the two, but it’s still a positive gain.
It’s interesting that the defense fails to even respect Samuels while aligned in the slot. He catches the pass with soft hands and steals yards.
Samuels now lines up as the H-back and the offense runs a power read shovel pass that is shut down.
NC State attempts to run a play action bootleg pass with Samuels running the under route. But he has no idea where to run it. He needs to find a crease and become a target for his QB.
I like his ability to read blocks. They aligned him in the slot in a quads set, and they outflank the defense. He is patient, continues to run the ladder wide, and helps set up some of his blocks by other WRs.
He is so much fun to watch. Here, they are in a 3×1 set and put him in the slot. He appears to run an option route. Based on the leverage of the defender, he sits, catches the ball as he is pivoting towards the sideline, turns upfield, and rumbles for a big gain.
Samuels isn’t fast. In fact, he ran a 4.54, but there is a little wiggle in his game.
Guys with Samuels’s versatility are fun to have in your arsenal. He ran a lot of pivot and return routes in the Wolfpack’s offense. It’s unknown if these were option routes where he was reading the linebacker, but either way, he has the athleticism and processing to do so.
I have low expectations when it comes to Samuels running nuanced routes. But I do love how he widens his stem, forcing the underneath defender to chase, but he is also using eyes to move the safety just a tad. But when he breaks back inside, it isn’t sudden. The underneath defender disrupts and is able to recover to make a play on the ball.
Samuels had the 2nd-most receptions from the slot because of bubble screens like this. Soft hands and can break tackles.
NC State appears to be a zone-heavy run team. Here is another outside zone run; Samuels reads it correctly, the right tackle climbs to the second level, and Jaylen cuts back for a nice gain.
He struggles as a blocker. They motion him in and he gets caught in no man’s land. He is unsure if he should just wash the defensive end down on the zone run or if he should swing his hips inside to wall him off, to allow the back to cut up inside. His responsibility blows the play up.
NC State is in a trips bunch set and they run an end around to Samuels. Their offensive coordinator is super creative, and I feel like Samuels’s OC will have to be the same.
You see it again here. This time, Samuels makes a couple guys miss, breaks some tackles, and gets into the end zone.
Jaylen Samuels is simply a football player. They throw the pass to him and let him work. As soon as he gets the ball, watch him put it in his left hand knowing that he was going to cut it back and that he would need his right hand to possibly break a tackle. As he then gets upfield, he switches the ball back to his right hand, just as he should.