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Numbers show Steelers draftee Jaylen Samuels is one of the 2018 NFL Draft’s best RBs, WRs, *and* TEs

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Samuels plays all around the formation, and he’s one of the best value picks of the draft at either running back or tight end.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers took NC State’s Jaylen Samuels in the NFL Draft‘s sixth round on Friday. Samuels is a position-less wonder who contributed at myriad spots during his time with the Wolfpack: running back, tight end, receiver, H-back, and occasional Wildcat quarterback.

Whether he’s running or receiving, Samuels is really productive.

His basic stat line over four college seasons makes that clear. His 201 career catches are an NC State record, and he averaged 9.2 yards on them. He averaged 6.1 yards on 181 carries, and he scored 28 of his 47 touchdowns on the ground.

Look deeper, and his numbers only look better. Research by SB Nation’s Bill Connelly, using advanced stats that put Samuels’ carries into context by game situation, shows that he’s the most efficient running back in the whole draft:

Samuels was one of college football’s most fascinating players. He lined up as a tailback, a blocking back, an H-back, a tight end, a wideout ... he played basically the JAYLEN position.

Honestly, though, NC State might have been overthinking things. He was one hell of an efficient ball-carrier, but he carried only 166 times, while catching 196 passes, over his final three seasons. And at 5’11, 223 pounds, he should, in my opinion, be viewed as a potential halfback. That is some extreme efficiency potential there.

Apply those same statistical ideas to this draft’s receiving crop, and Samuels again comes up looking golden. In addition to being the class’ most efficient back, he’s one of its best tight ends. (Samuels can line up either tight to the line or flexed out, so whether he’s a tight end or a wide receiver is largely a matter of semantics. He thrives as either.)

“Versatility” is a draft buzzword, but Samuels embodies it better than anyone.

At the league’s scouting combine in March, Samuels officially worked out as a tight end. He expects to play running back in the NFL, though, when the dust settles. Like millions of Americans who are just out of college, he sometimes has a hard time describing his job.

“I had a tough time as soon as I got this hoodie, ‘cause a lot of people were saying, ‘Why you got ‘TE’ on?’ Samuels told SB Nation then. “It’d be kind of hard some times, but, you know, I just try to go along with it, say I’m an ‘athlete,’ put it like that. Make it easier.”

Samuels is oddly sized for an NFL running back. His closest physical contemporary in the league is the PackersTy Montgomery, a former receiver who moved to running back in 2016. At his combine weigh-in, Montgomery was 6 feet and 221 pounds and classified as a wideout. At 5’11 and 225, Samuels would be a total anomaly at receiver or tight end. His built is that of a running back, which is why he thinks he’ll mostly play there.

“I see myself as a running back at the next level,” he said during his combine appearance. “That’s what a lot of teams see me as. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

In some role or another, Samuels is going to be a good NFL player.

He has such a range of talents — and he was so good at leveraging them in college — that there’s almost no way an NFL coaching staff can’t deploy him effectively. We don’t know if Samuels will stick forever at running back or spend more time catching passes, but he’s good enough at enough things that he’ll definitely stick somewhere.