Cris Collinsworth thinks Deebo Samuel deserves more recognition

By , Audacy Sports

Deebo Samuel had an impressive rookie season, picking up just shy of 1,000 total yards on 71 total touches and finding the end zone six times. But how many times have you ever heard Samuel's name mentioned in the same class of wide receivers as fellow 2019 rookies A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf? I'd be willing to bet that it's not very often, but maybe it's time we change that.

After all, Samuel is averaging 109.6 yards per game in five contests so far this season, ranking fifth in receiving yards (548) and sixth in yards per catch (17.7). He and Ja'Marr Chase are the only two players to appear in both lists, showing that they make the most out of every opportunity and produce a ton of yards despite having a lower volume than some of their elite-tier colleagues. Pro Football Focus ranks Samuel seventh among qualified receivers on the season with an 81.8 overall offensive grade, which is higher than notable names Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins, to name a couple.

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But, again, do we really consider Samuel when debating who the top wide receivers in the league are? Is it ridiculous to think that he's as talented as some of the aforementioned wideouts above, though no one really talks about him that way?

Based on the PFF grades, it's not all that ridiculous to think so. It makes sense, then, that PFF founder and longtime broadcaster Cris Collinsworth points out that we should be higher on Samuel than we are.

Out of all players, Collinsworth — a former star wide receiver in his own right — going with the third-year 49er is a pretty strong testament to just how talented he is... and how under-appreciated that talent is.

Interestingly enough, Football Outsiders' DYAR metric — which ranks players by their total value with a complex formula — has Samuel as the No. 27 wideout among 65 qualified players at the position, which isn't as glowing of a review. So while both objective analysis and subjective analysis of Samuel can differ, we can all agree that he's outperforming expectations amid a breakout third season, one that has him on pace to compete for the league's receiving title.

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For what it's worth, here are a handful of other names I'd consider for PFF's bar graph of high-talent, low-recognition names around the league:
- Aaron Jones: This dude has a nose for the end zone like no other, and while it helps having Aaron Rodgers at the helm of the offense and the best WR in the league attracting defenses, Jones should be considered just as vital a component of that Green Bay offense. His 88.9 pass blocking grade on PFF also shows how key he is in helping the whole system to work.
- Terry McLaurin: Maybe he is appreciated and I just don't realize it, but... man. Imagine if this guy had good quarterback play in his first few seasons. He could be right up there in the top-five WR debate had he been drafted into a better system.
- Brandon Graham: You realize that he's helping the Eagles when he's on the field, but you realize just how much his absence hurts even more when he's on the sidelines. The fact that it took him until 2020, his age-32 season, to make his first Pro Bowl doesn't seem right. Dude has been making huge plays in both the pass rush and run defense for years.
- Rodney Hudson: Because Geoff Schwartz and Trent Brown said so.

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