Where Bills WR Curtis Samuel ranks among NFL's fastest players

Recently signed Buffalo Bills wideout Curtis Samuel is among the fastest players in the NFL.
Oct 9, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders wide receiver Curtis Samuel (10) runs
Oct 9, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders wide receiver Curtis Samuel (10) runs / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Few players in the NFL are entering a more advantageous situation than wide receiver Curtis Samuel.

The 27-year-old, who inked a three-year deal with the Buffalo Bills in the 2024 NFL offseason, has long been viewed as one of the more talented, yet untapped weapons in the league—his ability is undeniable, but he, for a medley of reasons, simply hasn’t found himself in situations that breed consistent production. Whether it be poor quarterback play, mismanaged offenses, or a combination of the two, opportune circumstances have not been oft-afforded to Samuel throughout his seven-year career.

This seems primed to change in the 2024 campaign, as he’s set to link up with the best quarterback he’s ever played with in a prime Josh Allen. He’s also reuniting with offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who worked with Samuel as offensive play-caller of the Carolina Panthers in 2020; the versatile wideout put up career numbers that year, setting highs in both receiving and rushing yards with 851 and 200, respectively. Samuel also figures to be a significant contributor in a Buffalo receiving corps that lost Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis in the offseason—plenty of targets will be coming his way.

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He’s undeniably talented, he’s entering a familiar offense, and he’s set to be catching a bevy of passes from one of the best quarterbacks in football. If you haven’t yet bought Samuel stock, you may want to invest.

What makes Samuel so intriguing as a player is his unique skill set and versatility; the 5-foot-11 receiver was recruited out of high school as a four-star running back, logging significant snaps at both receiver and in the backfield throughout his three-year stint at Ohio State. While the vast majority of his snaps have come at receiver in the NFL, he has seen time as a running back, registering a career-high 70 backfield snaps under Brady in 2020, per PFF.

Samuel’s speed is what allows him to excel as a versatile chess piece as opposed to a traditional wideout; he ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. According to the 33rd Team's Marcus Mosher, this time makes the receiver the 19th fastest player in the NFL.

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"Not many players are faster with the ball in their hands than Curtis Samuel. The 2017 draft pick ran a blazing 4.31 40-yard dash out of Ohio State at 196 pounds," Mosher wrote in a recent article ranking the NFL's 25 fastest players. "He hasn’t always been in a situation where a team can utilize his speed, but that could change in 2024 now that he is with Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills."

The list is not simply a compilation of test times but is instead a combination of 40-yard dash times and in-game speeds as determined by NFL Next Gen Stats. Indianapolis Colts running back  Jonathan Taylor, for example, ranks above Samuel on the list; he ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, but Next Gen Stats reports that he hit a top speed of 22.1 miles per hour in a 2021 matchup with the New England Patriots. Mosher identifies Kansas City Chiefs rookie wideout Xavier Worthy, Miami Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill, and Seattle Seahawks pass-catcher D.K. Metcalf as the fastest players in the NFL.

Buffalo’s offense has not deployed a player with Samuel-like speed in quite some time, and with Allen manning the aerial attack, fireworks are likely afoot. It will be interesting to see Brady cooks up with his renewed colleague.

Kyle Silagyi