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2017 NFL Draft player breakdown: Curtis Samuel

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A lot of Jaguars fans want the team to target a running back early. The team should not do that, but they should think about Curtis Samuel later on.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The idea that the Jacksonville Jaguars should draft a running back in the first round, more specifically with their top five pick in the draft, has been growing like a weed around the fanbase.

I think that’s a horrible idea.

The Jaguars have so many pressing needs to address this offseason, and in my opinion: Running back is not even a top five need. My list of needs for the Jaguars are as follows:

  • Pass rusher
  • Offensive guard
  • Strong safety (especially if the new coach approaches a traditional base 4 defense)
  • Cornerback
  • Right tackle

I didn’t include because it’s not logical to believe the team will abandon all hope on Blake Bortles until he finishes his fourth year as a Jaguar. Could they bring in competition? Yes, and they should. But they won’t target a new starter until 2018 if Bortles has another bad season.

But, back to the point. Running back doesn’t even make my top five for team needs. Chris Ivory has shown he can make plays when his run blocking doesn’t look atrocious, which it has for the majority of the season. I believe he will look much, much better with better run blocking -- which can be upgraded by addressing two of the top five needs I listed.

Ivory signed a five year, $32 million contract with the Jaguars last offseason, and his guarantees will be fully paid after the 2017 season. Until then, it’s not smart of the team to invest high draft stock on a running back when there is already an RB on the roster that’s been heavily invested in.

Give Ivory time. Let him work with a better offensive line. I’d almost like to promise you he will look better with a better offensive line.

But...

I would like to bring a running back to your attention for if the Jaguars decide to target one at all. He would be a very smart mid-round option that could replace TJ Yeldon, or even without replacing Yeldon, be used in various ways for the Jaguars.

His name is Curtis Samuel: Junior RB/WR from Ohio State, standing at 5’11, 197 pounds, and should be known as the perfect “Jack of all trades running back”.

Hell, coach Urban Meyer, when asked if Samuel was a running back or wide receiver in the preseason, said “I'd have him {Samuel] ranked No. 1 as the playmaker on offense”.

Samuel being a “Jack of all trades running back” means he can do almost anything a running back is asked to do. While he isn’t an all-star at every RB trait, he can do almost everything well.

One of his most valuable traits is his speed. Samuel is one of the fastest players coming out this year, and he adds value to his speed with his toughness. Most speed backs aren’t the toughest backs on the field, but Samuel isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder.

"You're not going to catch that man, I can tell you that. I mean, the stuff he does in practice -- the stuff you don't get to see -- is pretty incredible.”

This quote comes from Samuel’s teammate Billy Price, who plays offensive line. He points out Samuel’s speed, which is top notch and can be seen anywhere he lines up.

This first play shows Samuel sliding from the shotgun back to slot receiver, and once he plants his fake step on his route, you know Samuel is taking this play to the house — quickly.

Here’s another play showing Samuel’s speed, as well as his elusiveness this time coming on a hand-off. You might remember this play if you watched the OSU-Michigan game this year, as Samuel ran this ball in to win the game for OSU:

Samuel has produced big numbers as both a running back and a receiver. This year alone, Samuel has rushed the ball for 704 yards on 91 attempts — that’s 7.7 yards per carry — and has eight rushing touchdowns. When he’s running routes, Samuel has recorded 65 receptions for 822 yards — averaging 12.6 yards per catch — and seven receiving touchdowns.

Samuel is a scrimmage back. His career stats from scrimmage heading into tonight’s playoff game against Clemson sit at 2425 yards, 9.2 yards per touch, and 24 TDs.

Samuel’s vision is yet another special aspect of his game. Running backs, specifically speed backs, must utilize their vision and combine it with their football IQ to create, as speed backs usually don’t have much power or toughness to thrive on in tough spots.

Although Samuel is a tough back, he still utilizes his vision and football IQ and finds ways to create positive plays:

I made note of it earlier, but you can not take Curtis Samuel as a receiver lightly, either. His hands are solid, and can be considered great for a running back, and he runs routes tremendously:

So, considering how talented Samuel is, why is he not projected to be a high draft pick?

As of right now, Samuel is being projected anywhere between a late second through early fourth round pick. I called him a “Jack of all trades running back” earlier, which is true, but the second half of that phrase — “But master of none” — factors in.

Samuel is a great receiving back and is extremely speedy, but his power running, although he can power run, isn’t phenomenal. Most bell-cow backs in the NFL — the high draft picks — are capable of power running with speed, not speed run with power. Samuel is the latter type of back.

Samuel’s size also limits him. While he stands at 5’11”, which is a fair size for running backs, he stands at 197 lbs, which is a red flag. As of right now, the only active running backs in the NFL that are labeled as “notable” and good running backs that weigh less than 200 lbs are Jamaal Charles (199 lbs) and Darren Sproles (190 lbs), and Charles has been dealing with injuries throughout most of his career.

These factors will cause Samuel’s stock to dip, but that should be a good thing for the Jaguars if they’re interested in taking a running back to compliment Chris Ivory. If Samuel falls into the 3rd/4th round, the Jaguars should heavily consider drafting Curtis Samuel.

Ohio State faces Clemson tonight in the Fiesta Bowl at 7 PM. If you think the Jaguars need to add some electricity to their backfield, be sure to watch the Fiesta Bowl and keep your eyes on Ohio State’s “playmaker”, Curtis Samuel.