It’s no secret that Jaylen Samuels, like most running backs coming off their rookie year, wants to improve his pass protection. It was what he highlighted in our “one step to take” series after charging him for three sacks this season, despite not playing until the back half of 2018.
Sitting down with Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews, Samuels explained how he can work on that area of his game during the offseason.
“Building that strength to work on my technique,” Samuels said during the interview. “I need to get better at that. That’s one thing I always need to get better at. Coming out of college because I didn’t do so much in college.”
At NC State, Samuels was most often used as a receiver, running routes on third and long, not staying in to protect his quarterback. You have to go back to his sophomore year tape, following an injury to then-starter Matthew Dayes, to find any examples of him pass protecting. And even then, he split time, catching plenty of passes.
Samuels also confirmed what we all assumed coming out of this year. He plans to lose some weight to increase his burst and speed.
“Slimming down a little bit. Getting a little faster. Working on little things you know you’ll need to use when pass blocking.”
Samuels weighed in at 225 pounds at last year’s Combine and it’ll serve him well to lose roughly ten pounds. It’s the same approach Le’Veon Bell and James Conner took very early in their careers and will make Samuels a more dynamic player, especially with how much he’ll be used in space in the passing game.
In hindsight, carrying that extra weight wasn’t beneficial to Samuels but at the time it was unclear what position he was going to play. In college, he was largely used as a receiver. The Senior Bowl played him exclusively at running back before the Combine made him workout with the tight ends.
Now that he’s been with an NFL team for a year and knows exactly how he’ll be used, he can slim down, improve his pass protection, and be a much better player come 2019.