Ben Fennell is an Emmy Award-winning producer, editor and researcher across several media platforms, including NFL Network, ESPN College Football, The Athletic and Eagles Game Plan on philadelphiaeagles.com.
He is analyzing the 2019 NFL draft for The Inquirer, breaking down the best player, the riser and the sleeper at each position.
Today, in part 10 of our series, he looks at three “gadget” players.
You can follow him on Twitter at @benfennell_NFL.
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
5-11, 214 | Arms: 31 3/8 inches | Hands: 10 inches | 40 time: 4.48 seconds | Vertical jump: 39.0 inches | Broad jump: 10-2 | 225 bench press: 15 reps
Round projection: 1-2
Ben’s take: “Deebo is a Percy Harvin-Randall Cobb-type slot receiver, but he looks like a running back. Has a huge bubble butt and big legs on a rocked-up frame. He’s a guy you can give the ball to on jet sweeps, or just line him up in the backfield and give it to him.
“He’s an effective yards-after-the-catch receiver. You can use him on bubbles and other screens. He can win in the quick game. He’s effective on slants and quick routes, but he also can beat you vertically.
“Last year, he was a senior coming off a season-ending broken fibula and they had him punt-gunning. In a game I did, he shook the jammer, ran down the field, and jumped on the ball after the returner muffed it. That’s the kind of guy you want on your team. A guy with that type of enthusiasm and effort.
“He’ll probably go in the second round, but I wouldn’t put it past a team like New England to grab him at the back of Round 1. He’s that special of a player. I’d be shocked if he made it out of the top 50.’’
Mecole Hardman, Georgia
5-10, 187 | Arms: 30 ¼ inches | Hands: 9 inches | 40 time: 4.33 seconds | Vertical jump: 36.5 inches | Broad jump: 9-11 | 225 bench press: 17 reps
Round projection: 3
Ben’s take: “Hardman was the Georgia offensive player of the year at quarterback coming out of high school, and was moved to wide receiver. Ran a 4.33 at the combine.
“When you watch him in the 2017 national-title game, he ran a big-box fade, which is a vertical route from the slot, against Alabama’s Tony Brown. Brown would later run a 4.35 at the combine. Hardman smoked him on the route.
“He’s another guy that can return kicks for you. He’s more of a running-back body playing wide receiver. Like Samuel, he’s a guy you can get involved in backfield action and screens and jet sweeps.’’
Tony Pollard, Memphis
6-0, 210 | Arms: 30 inches | Hands: 9 ½ inches | 40 time: 4.52 seconds | Vertical jump: 35 inches | Broad jump: 10-1 | 225 bench press: 13 reps
Round projection: 5-6
Ben’s take: “Pollard’s a late-round version of Deebo. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry and 12.4 yards per catch at Memphis. They used him differently from week to week. Some games, he was an outside-the-numbers receiver making back-shoulder catches and high-pointing the ball. Other games, he was in the backfield running inside zone and outside zone.
“They gave him wildcat quarterback reps. He had seven career kickoff returns for touchdowns. He’s just another guy who can do a lot of things for you in the running game, passing game and special teams.