Looking back: Terry Mclaurin vs Deebo Samuel

The 2019 NFL Draft saw a multitude of Wide Receivers taken, with varying success across the board. In total, 28 were taken, of which 13 came in the first 3 rounds alone! This wasn’t quite a class of the quality that the 2020 Draft produced on paper. However, there were several Receivers that managed to stand out from the crowd. In this article, I will be looking at two of the Wide Receivers who left their mark on the league in their debut season.Terry Mclaurin and Deebo Samuel were two of the more productive of their class.

The former was taken with the 76th pick of the Draft by the Washington Redskins. Mclaurin, a former Ohio State Wide Receiver, was the 12th off the board at his position when Washington rolled the dice in the third round. Contrastingly, Deebo Samuel was taken very high in the second round at pick 36 by the San Francisco 49ers. Only 2 receivers were taken ahead of the former South Carolina star. Both of whom didn’t have near the impact Samuel did in year 1.

Tale of the Tape

Terry Mclaurin Deebo Samuel
Receiving Yards 919 802
Receptions (targets) 58 (93) 57 (81)
Catch Percentage 62.4 70.4
Yards Per Receptions 15.8 14.1
Total Touchdowns 7 6
Fantasy Points STD/PPR 133.9 / 191.9 132.1 / 189.1


Terry Mclaurin

Terry Mclaurin almost instantly became his team’s number 1 receiver. Let’s be honest, it isn’t hard to see why! Washington entered the season with one of the League’s most lacklustre Receiver groups. Outside of Mclaurin, the next best receiver amassed a mere 378 yards. What makes that statistic even worse for Washington is the fact this was Chris Thompson, a specialist running back used mainly on passing downs. Add to this poor quarterback play throughout the season, it’s even more impressive that Mclaurin was able to produce in the way he did.

Often targeted by opposing defences, Terry Mclaurin quickly became recognised as Washington’s main threat. Evidenced by the respect he was shown by opposing teams. On average, Mclaurin was given a 5.2 yard cushion at the line of scrimmage. A statistic that places Mclaurin among some of the league’s most elite Wide Receivers and tight ends. Mclaurin also had to battle for a lot of his success. He ranked 4th in the league in separation at the point of catch, which further strengthens the fact Mclaurin is effective when also contesting his catches in traffic.

His catch percentage may concern some, however this may also stem from poor quarterback production in Washington last season. Dwayne Haskins looks to be in the driving seat for 2020. The Washington Quarterback had started to produce some more promising performances in the final few games of the season. Add to that, Washington has a new and highly respected voice on the sidelines in head coach Ron Rivera.

What we also know is that “Scary Terry” can really shift! He ran a 4.35 40-yard time at the 2019 Combine, that same speed saw him adopt the nickname F1 Mclaurin.

Deebo Samuel

In San Francisco, Deebo Samuel, like Mclaurin, also etched out a role as his team’s go-to Receiver. Outside of George Kittle, Samuel shared the majority of his teams passing looks with Emmanuel Sanders. Finishing the season with 802 receiving yards on 57 receptions, Deebo sat at 42nd in the league for receiving yards among Wide Receivers. However, Receptions only serve to tell part of the tale when it comes to Samuel’s overall production.

San Francisco also deployed Deebo Samuel in their rushing attack, and to great effect! This is an element of Samuel’s game that also saw him gain some success during his collegiate career. What is interesting about this aspect of Samuel’s game is how San Francisco used it to their advantage. San Francisco operated most of the season with a committee of running backs sharing the carries. It was only in the latter part of the season that they involved Samuel among this committee. Of Samuel’s 159 rushing yards, 122 of these came in the final 5 games of the regular season.

Samuel continued to be productive in this regard in the postseason, whereby he tallied a further 102 rushing yards over the 3 games played. This is further evidence that the 49ers found something they really liked down the stretch in the former South Carolina receiver, including in the games that mattered. His 159 rushing yards in the regular season ranked first among Wide Receivers across the entire league. This made Deebo Samuel a hybrid offensive weapon in a dangerous and often unpredictable Kyle Shanahan led offense.

2020 Season Outlook – Washington

Not much has changed in Washington. They looked to further strengthen their Receiving corps in the 2020 NFL Draft, selecting Antonio Gandy-Golden in the fourth round. This should help bolster the position given the size and length Gandy-Golden possesses. Beyond this, Steven Sims Jr will be expected to pick up where he left off the 2019 season with some strong displays. Kelvin Harmon had a disappointing campaign, but became more involved down the stretch. The Redskins also drafted Antonio Gibson in 2020, a talented dual threat running back of a similar mould to Christian Mccaffrey.

What does all of this mean for Terry Mclaurin? Not a great deal would be my guess! Mclaurin continued his success with Dwayne Haskins under Center, with some of his strongest performances coming in the closing weeks of the season. I expect Haskins to continue to lean on his most talented Receiver, especially in the absence of a trusted tight end. Inexperienced quarterbacks love to have a go-to Tight End, and when they don’t have one, they love a go-to Receiver. That is exactly what Terry Mclaurin is.

2020 Season Outlook – San Francisco

Similar could be said of Deebo Samuel’s current position. He stands to continue to be a go-to weapon in his team’s varied offense. San Francisco invested a first round 2020 Draft pick on Brandon Aiyuk. A surprise to many given some of the other names still on the board at that stage! Emmanuel Sanders has departed the 49ers, in favour of NFC rivals the New Orleans Saints. Outside of Samuel and Aiyuk, the San Francisco’s receivers are young. Kendrick Bourne had flashes few and far between throughout the season and has been on the roster since 2017. Jalen Hurd is due back from injury, a highly thought of third round pick in 2019, but will need time to find his feet in the offense.

We know that San Francisco loves to run the football via committee. Matt Breida is no longer a part of this group. Jerick McKinnon awaits his opportunity to shine in San Francisco, another player returning from a season-long injury. Outside of their Rushing offense, I again expect to see San Francisco getting the ball into the hands of George Kittle as much as possible. The star Tight End led his team in Receptions and targets by some margin in 2019. However, Deebo Samuel should now pick up some of the targets left by the departed Emmanuel Sanders, along with the newly recruited Brandon Aiyuk. The workload for Samuel looks like it is only going to trend in one direction all things considered, and that appears to be upwards. Samuel is now an established piece of his team’s offense in both the ground attack and through the air.

Off the Board

Unsurprisingly, Deebo Samuel’s dual threat has seen him shoot up Draft boards. In standard league formats, Samuel isn’t making it past pick number 40 on average. Depending on your league size, you may stretch to around the fourth round, but don’t expect him to be waiting for you beyond that! According to fantasydata.com, Samuel should be available at around pick 55 in PPR leagues. Given the Lion’s share of targets will still belong to George Kittle, this doesn’t come as a shock. If you are looking to buy shares in Deebo Samuel in dynasty formats, look to secure him around the third or fourth round league size dependent. His average position in Dynasty is currently 34th off the board. This again is understandable given his ceiling, his current situation on his team and he has youth on his side.

Mclaurin’s ADP surprised me! I’ll be honest, I expected him to be a little higher. Standard scoring and PPR leagues have him ranked at ADP 65 and 61 respectively. Given he is the primary weapon in Washington’s offense, I at least expected a higher ADP in PPR leagues. Here’s the real shocker though… Mclaurin’s dynasty ADP is currently 55! That’s low given the talent, the circumstance, the new coach in town – Ron Rivera, all positives in my eyes. That means that you may be able to grab Terry in round 5 or 6 depending on your league size. In years to come, that could feel like a bargain grab!

Splitting hairs

How close is this one really? It’s so close! The Tale of the Tape is neck and neck through their debut season. The situations both players find themselves in are similar in that they are highly likely, in fact almost certain to be their teams most productive Wide Receiver in 2020. I guess this one comes down to preference. You can analyse the stats, but there really isn’t much between them!

What Terry Mclaurin may give you in receptions and receiving yards, Deebo Samuel will likely counter with his contribution in his San Francisco’s ground game. I think 2020 will be a similar situation for both Receivers again. Expect Mclaurin to grab the majority of his team’s targets and air yards. I also expect Samuel to have another solid year through the air and out of the backfield. Both players have that big play ability.

What possibly splits this one for me is what has changed on their respective teams. In this aspect, Deebo Samuel looks primed to have a great season. He is sure to pick up some of the workload that Emmanuel Sanders leaves behind. Aiyuk should and also will be involved, but will likely be eased into the offense. San Francisco tapped into something at the end of last season, something they really liked. They discovered and unleashed their swiss army knife on offense. They like what they see and have, Samuel fits their scheme, a very similar kind of contributor to former NFL Receiver Percy Harvin. It’s that same dual threat that may see you over the line in your matchups in 2020, as Samuel becomes your perfect Flex player!

The Verdict

With all of that said, I love me some Terry Mclaurin. I think he takes a step up this season and cements himself just outside of the WR1 tier, as a very high end WR2. He should have more consistent quarterback play this season. If Haskins doesn’t pan out, there is Kyle Allen. Arguably both are an upgrade on what Washington had for most of last season, though the jury may still be out on Haskins. Mclaurin’s debut season was impressive despite a mid-season lul, and I fully expect season 2 to be even better. Washington hasn’t changed much on offense, but they have added small pieces through the draft. If they can produce a competent rushing offense, Mclaurin will reap the rewards once more.

If this is a dynasty league, I’m absolutely grabbing Terry Mclaurin as much as I can. He has all the tools to be a WR1 for years to come. I really believe in the former Ohio State University product, and feel he has tremendous upside. He feels more like that starting Wide Receiver who you would happily hang your hat on. He looks the part, and more importantly, he plays the part. However, if you are set at Receiver and are seeking the perfect compliment for your flex in your redraft league, standard or PPR… Deebo Samuel could be your guy.

Next time, I’ll be reviewing two of the top tight ends taken in the 2019 NFL Draft. Thank you as always for reading. Until next time Rush Nation!

-Nick Owen @nickofwigan

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