Fifth-rounder Jaylen Samuels, a tight end at North Carolina State who will be converted to running back with the Steelers, agreed to a four-year rookie contract Wednesday.
At N.C. State, Samuels set the school record with 202 career receptions and ranked second with 47 touchdowns. He is the only player in the nation to have 15 career receiving and rushing touchdowns, a feat not accomplished since at least 2004.
The 6-foot, 225-pound Samuels will see his first action Friday when rookies report for a three-day minicamp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Jaylen Samuels is in an advantageous position with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The combination running back/full back/tight end may have only been a fifth-round pick, but just as James Conner did last season, he will have a chance to prove himself in training camp simply due to the snaps available to him. If Le’Veon Bell does not reach a new contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers ahead of camp, and it is looking less and less likely by the day, then he will presumably hold out of training camp, leaving a vacuum to be filled by whoever performs the best of the runners left. If that is Samuels, he could sneak his way ahead of Conner on the depth chart and in Pittsburgh’s long-term plans. He just had to make sure that he was actually there.
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“The kid is a very talented, multi-purpose kid that has done a lot of different jobs,” said running backs coach James Saxon. “He’s going to get every opportunity once he comes here to do a lot different jobs. I think the value in a kid like him, for a coach, is you can use him in a lot of different areas like NC State did. He is going to get an opportunity to do everything we do in our room in terms of being a running back. The kid answers the bell in a lot of different ways.”
He played both running back and tight end in college, and a true sign of his versatility he was first-team ACC as an all-purpose player.
“Being able to catch the ball, run the ball, and make guys miss in open space. I feel like that’s my specialty,” said Samuels. “I’m more of a power-style running back. A guy that’s going to get North to South. Our team at NC State, we ran a lot of outside zone, so once we ran outside zone, I just tried to hit it downhill, make guys miss. I’m a stiff-arm type guy. That’s my specialty, the stiff arm. Just try to get around guys and make guys miss so that’s the kind of runner I am. Smart runner, got a lot of good football IQ so just got a little knack for the end zone. That’s just what I do.”