N.C. State’s Jaylen Samuels thinks his versatility will play well in NFL

2018 NFL Draft: Where did Jaylen Samuels play at N.C. State? Same place the Wolfpack star played at Mallard Creek High, and where he hopes to play in the NFL: "Playmaker," meaning wherever he can get his hands on the football.
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2018 NFL Draft: Where did Jaylen Samuels play at N.C. State? Same place the Wolfpack star played at Mallard Creek High, and where he hopes to play in the NFL: "Playmaker," meaning wherever he can get his hands on the football.

Carolina Panthers

Wolfpack’s Jaylen Samuels won’t be boxed in by letters on a hoodie at scouting combine

March 02, 2018 06:42 PM


Jaylen Samuels often has a difficult time describing his position, including this week, when the former N.C. State star was lumped with the tight ends at the NFL scouting combine.

“I had a tough time as soon as I got this hoodie, because a lot of people were saying, ‘Why you got TE on?’” Samuels said. “It’s kind of hard sometimes. But I just go along with it, say I’m an athlete. Put it like that. Make it easier.”

Samuels was listed an H-back for the Wolfpack, but lined up at multiple positions and was mostly a slot receiver.

NFL teams view him as a running back, but he’ll work out Saturday with the tight ends at the combine.

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Playmaker might be the best description for the former Mallard Creek standout who broke N.C. State’s all-time receptions record in his final game with the Wolfpack.

“Anywhere on the field,” Samuels said Friday when asked what he sees as his best position. “They see me as a running back so I’ll contribute anywhere the offensive coordinator wants me to be. It could be receiver, running back, split out (of) the backfield.”

Samuels’ versatility is nothing new.

He said he “literally played the same thing” at Mallard Creek.

That is to say, everything.

“I played safety my sophomore year. I played receiver my junior (and senior) year. Running back, as well. And then Wildcat quarterback,” he said. “So I was pretty much doing the same thing at N.C. State. That’s one of the main reasons I went there.”

A starting point

Samuels thinks part of the reason he was listed as an H-back at State stemmed from the fact that the Wolfpack’s tight ends coach recruited him.

H-back merely served as a starting point.

“My role just kind of expanded throughout the four years I was there,” Samuels said.

Samuels was the Wolfpack’s leading receiver as a senior last fall, with 76 catches. But he would line up in the backfield in short-yardage and goal line situations, finishing as N.C. State’s third-leading rusher and tying for the team lead with 12 rushing touchdowns.

Samuels is part of a huge Wolfpack contingent in Indianapolis. N.C. State sent seven players to the combine, including defensive end Bradley Chubb, who could be a top-five pick.

The list also includes Nyheim Hines, whose 4.38-second clocking in the 40-yard dash on Friday was the fastest among running backs.

“He’s fast, man. He’s kind of just like me,” Samuels said. “He shows a lot of versatility, being able to catch, run as well. He popped a 4.3, so congrats to him.”

Samuels could blaze a fast 40 when he runs on Saturday. During the Senior Bowl practices in January, officials clocked him at 21 mph – the second-fastest time of the week.

“I saw a tweet about that, but I didn’t feel like I was going that fast,” he said. “But yeah, that was pretty crazy.”

Elite at ... nothing?

After he catches passes with the tight ends Saturday, Samuels says he’s been asked to do running back drills as well. While some scouts question whether Samuels can be elite at any of his roles, he’s been selling his versatility and willingness to play anywhere when meeting with teams this week.

The Panthers used their first two picks last year on versatile players with skill sets similar to Samuels’ – running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Curtis Samuel.

So Samuels’ hometown team might not be in the market for another jack-of-all trades. He said he’s only met informally with the Panthers in Indy.

But Samuels, who’s projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick, is confident some team will see his diverse resume and give him a shot – wherever that may be.

“I’m down to play for anybody, whoever gives me the opportunity,” he said. “I’m able to show my versatility skills, my catching skills, my running skills. Whoever gives me the opportunity, I’m going to try to make the best of it.”

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson