Because most rookies don’t get enough credit, we’ll be highlighting some top performances by the NFL’s next generation.
Offense: Week 15
Jaylen Samuels, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
With Le’Veon Bell gone for the year, and backup-turned-starter James Conners hobbled with an ankle injury, the Steelers needed a boost in the running game to keep their narrow lead in the AFC North. They found what they needed in fifth-round selection Jaylen Samuels. Coming out of N.C. State, Samuels is a bit of a tweener. He’s bigger than most fullbacks, too small for tight end, and not really streaky fast down the sidelines. What he is, however, is versatile. He can handle the punishment of every down running with his stronger frame, but can also slide in as a slot receiver, or catch passes out of the backfield. Think of him as a more muscular version of New England’s James White. And the Steelers used him to perfection against those Patriots in week 15, where his 142 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards kept the Patriots off balance in coverage and helped the Steelers to an upset win. While Samuels might not fit everyone’s idea of what a running back should look like, he’s the perfect versatile weapon for a Pittsburgh team that will be re inventing itself in the post-Le’Veon Bell era. Mike Tomlin is a smart, flexible head coach who is likely to use Samuels as an offensive Swiss Army knife going forward.
Image Source: USA Today