When the Seattle Seahawks selected Washington tight end Will Dissly in the fourth round last year, a lot of people were surprised. It was surprising a team needing help on the offensive line would draft a skill player. Surprising a player who totaled just 25 receptions for his career would be drafted on day two.
It’s called run blocking folks, and it’s one of the most important skills a player can bring to the NFL. Dissly was the top run blocking TE in the 2018 draft. UW teammate Drew Sample is at the top of that list this year. Both love getting their hands dirty in the run game.
Like Dissly, Sample is really strong at the point of attack, and is rarely overpowered by defenders. He has very quick feet, and is always moving them. Watch below how well he carries out his assignment on this Myles Gaskin touchdown against Utah:
Sample is responsible for the outside linebacker (#40). He has to read the defender and meet him in the hole if one opens up, or (as is the case here ) pin the defender inside as Gaskin bounces the run to the outside. It may not look like a super impressive block, but if Sample gets anxious and goes to find his man in the hole, he gets lost in the shuffle. His man pops free to force Gaskin to the sideline. We would never have seen that beautiful little shoulder dip Gaskin used to freeze two DBs at once.
Sample consistently follows through on his assignments, it’s one of his biggest strengths.
As a pass receiver, Sample is not a particularly sharp route runner and is pretty slow coming off his breaks. He will have difficulty gaining separation from linebackers. He tallied just 46 receptions in four seasons, so we’re not talking about a Travis Kelce type here.
However, his hands are very good and he can make tough catches in tight coverage. Where Sample shined in the passing game during his UW career was when Jake Browning would hop on his roller skates and start wheeling around the backfield and looking for an outlet. The play below exemplifies something we saw from these two guys for four years; Browning scrambling and finding Sample on the jailbreak:
Third down, Sample runs a route we saw a lot of from him: Run to the sticks and try to separate from the linebacker. He does an ok job of that here, but Browning pulls it down and takes off left. Sample sees that, and he also takes off left, providing an easy target for his quarterback.
Sample can definitely make plays in the passing game and is very effective at selling run block and drifting out for a pass. I could see him grabbing some 1-yard TDs on play action.
But you’re not drafting Drew Sample to be a big time receiver. He is first and foremost a mauler in the run game. Watch him lock up a defender below (Sample is 2nd from the top) and swiftly escort him to the sideline:
Drew Sample is ready to play at the next level, and not someone you will need to waste time developing. He’s a player with a very high floor, because you know exactly what you’re getting and he’s already been asked to do most of the things they want tight ends to do in the NFL. Look for him to be drafted by a team needing to compliment a pass catching tight end, but honestly every team in the NFL can use a guy like Sample.
Round Prediction: 4th