Seventeen receivers were selected through the first three rounds of this year’s draft. That is tied for the most all-time now and is easily the most since 2007. Suffice to say: We are experiencing a never-ending influx of electric receivers Entering the league.
But I think there’s a Deeper underlying trend we should keep an eye on. If this draft is any indication, it seems to me everyone wants their own Deebo Samuel. It’s not necessarily for the reasons you think at first blush.
Deebo Samuel turned this into a touchdown pic.twitter.com/MFeVov9YvB
– Christian D’Andrea, Star V defender (@TrainIsland) January 16, 2022
The reigning First-Team All-Pro is a do-it-all receiver / running back, the Catalyst that drives the 49ers’ offense. That other squads would want their own multifaceted receiver makes a ton of sense. The NFL is nothing if not a copycat league, and this is simply the latest hot trend.
But what if it’s not just a hot trend? What if players like Samuel represent the wave of the future, and he was merely one of the first major dominoes to fall?
This weekend saw three separate teams – the Titans with Treylon Burks, the Bears with Velus Jones Jr., and the Dolphins with Erik Ezukanma – put their hat into the ring for their own “Deebo.” Neither Burks, Jones Jr., or Ezukanma are exceptionally polished route-runners. But get the ball into their hands in space (ideally) like Samuel, and you’re (ideally) in business.
Which brings up another point: Might the wave of Samuel imitators represent a shift in roster construction? I won if teams want a versatile Samuel-type “receiver” that routinely touches the ball 10-plus times a game not only because they’re explosive, but because they can somewhat replace the jobs of other positions (like running backs).
I’m not an Advocate of asking smaller build players to take on more punishment, which is a different, essential conversation. But it certainly seems that teams like the Titans, Bears, and Dolphins want a playmaker – not just a receiver – because it’ll allow them to invest resources elsewhere. And if Burks / Jones Jr./Ezukanma take off, it’ll be full steam ahead for this thought process. I don’t know how sustainable that set-up is on and off the field, but I’ll wait for a larger sample size before making an even Deeper judgment.
Watch “Our Deebo” be ingrained as the main axiom of every football conversation (if it hasn’t already started) you’re privy to within a year. Remember that you read it here first.
Samuel’s Greatness might have opened a can of Worms in pro football. For now, we can only hope it’s for the better.