The Jets recently signed offensive lineman Dru Samia to a futures deal. Today we break him down in detail.
The 24-year old Samia is listed at 6’5” and 308 pounds and was a fourth round pick out of Oklahoma in 2019. He has started four games so far in his NFL career but did not play in 2021.
Samia was a four-star prospect out of high school and opted to attend Oklahoma where he started nine of 12 games in his freshman year and then 39 of 40 over his final three seasons.
Over the course of his career he earned a reputation as a solid and aggressive player and he earned all-Big 12 second team honors in 2017 and first-team honors in 2018. He was also the all-Big 12 co-offensive lineman of the year in 2018.
After attending the senior bowl and scouting combine, Samia was regarded as a potential mid-round pick in the 2019 draft and ended up being selected by the Vikings in the fourth round.
In his rookie year, Samia was only active for one of the first 15 games and didn’t play any offensive snaps. However, he saw some action on offense in the season finale.
In 2020, injuries gave him a chance to start four games early in the season, but he struggled badly and didn’t get any offensive snaps after week five.
He was placed on injured reserve after preseason in 2021 and eventually released. The Jets signed him to their practice squad in October but he wasn’t elevated for any games. They then signed him to a futures deal after the season.
Now let’s take a look at what Samia brings to the table, divided into categories.
Although Samia’s arm length is below average, his wide frame gives him a good wingspan and he has big hands.
His speed, explosiveness and agility numbers at the combine were about average overall as he ran a 5.29 in the 40-yard dash. He did post a solid 28 bench press reps though. Samia tried to improve upon his agility numbers at his pro day but ended up posting worse numbers.
At the NFL level, Samia has only played at right guard in regular season action, although he did play one game at left guard in preseason this year.
At OU, he started at right tackle as a freshman, but then played almost exclusively at right guard in his final three seasons. He did start one game at right tackle as a sophomore and kicked out to right tackle a few times during games due to injuries.
Samia posted some impressive pass protection numbers in college as he only gave up three sacks in regular season action in his career, including none in his sophomore year, and only five total pressures in the regular season in his senior campaign.
However, in the 2017 playoffs, he gave up two sacks against Georgia and in the 2018 playoffs, he gave up six pressures against Alabama. This was perhaps a warning sign he might struggle with NFL-level talent.
This manifested itself at the NFL level when he held up okay in preseason but when he was forced into a starting role, he gave up three sacks and plenty of pressure in four games.
Probably the biggest issue Samia has had in pass protection was holding up against the bull rush.
However, he was also susceptible to quickness and struggled to recover. On this play he steps too far to his right, perhaps trying to get the jump on an anticipated outside rush and showing a lack of confidence in himself.
Samia was a consistent run blocker on a solid rushing team in college, but struggled at the NFL level. His biggest issue was making blocks in space, where he had multiple bad whiffs that led to runs being blown up.
There were moments where he showed some promise, though. On this play, he knocks a man down on the combo block and then climbs to the second level and locks onto his block well - although even here he falls off it late in the rep.
On this play, he shows some good strength at the point of attack, moving his man off his spot to seal him outside and carve out a running lane.
He was effective as a pulling guard at Oklahoma and has decent lateral quickness for reach blocks and zone blocking on the move.
The Vikings didn’t have much success in short yardage with Samia starting, as they only had one short touchdown run in his four starts and that was on a play where Dalvin Cook had no room up the middle so he bounced outside.
They did score running behind him in the 2019 season finale, although he didn’t get much of a drive on here.
Samia has the athleticism to hustle out in front of a screen pass, as he shows here, although he doesn’t get out to his man in time to make a clean block.
As he entered the NFL, Samia had a few technical issues, some of which he had acknowledged himself. He said he needed to be more consistent with his pad level and flexibility and experts felt his footwork in pass protection and hand placement also needed to improve.
When he’s not balanced and unable to keep a defensive player’s hands off him, Samia can get embarrassed as he was here.
There are some positive signs though, if he can clean up a few things. He wins the leverage battle here to seal his man on the inside and spring a long run.
On this play, he pulls and gets a good drive going, displaying some good power, leg strength and aggression.
Samia wasn’t particularly penalty-prone in college, as he had 11 penalties in four seasons. However, he was quick-tempered and this would spill over at times, including in a game against West Virginia where he was ejected for throwing a punch.
At the NFL level he has had four penalties in preseason - two for holding and two false starts.
In regular season action, he didn’t have any penalties in his first three starts but then had four in his fourth start - three for holding and one for being illegally downfield on a pass. Ironically, this was his highest graded game of the four he started, according to Pro Football Focus.
Samia’s main contributions on special teams have been as a blocker on the placekicking unit. He’s played a few snaps here and there blocking on return units or in punt protection, but hasn’t made any notable contributions at the college or NFL level.
Samia was a two-time all-Big 12 academic team selection and showed an ability to execute his assignments, pick up stunts and help out his linemates in pass protection while in college.
Some of his struggles at the NFL level were clearly due to him being uncertain of his assignment and he made some mental errors at times.
On this play, Samia leaks out for the screen pass but goes the wrong way. This is further evidence of his uncertainty having been thrown into the starting mix perhaps before he was entirely ready.
Samia was a vocal leader with the Sooners and won the Don Key Award for the player who exemplified superior qualities on and off the field.
What stood out about him in college was his aggressive nature. He displayed plenty of nastiness and a fiery temper, admitting himself that he needed to control his intensity because that can be both good and bad.
He has been lauded for his effort and heart and has often displayed toughness by playing through injuries.
Injuries weren’t really an issue for Samia in college, although he missed one start in his junior year due to an unknown injury.
In preseason this year, he suffered what was described as a serious hamstring injury and landed on injured reserve in final cuts. He was also bothered by a wrist injury in 2020 and spent a week on Covid-19 reserve.
Samia has shown the ability to block within both zone and power blocking schemes and there are similarities between the Jets’ current system and that of Minnesota.
Right guard definitely seems like his most natural position and the one in which he has the most experience.
There’s no sugar-coating the fact that Samia really struggled in his only action as an NFL starter. Vikings fans were extremely critical of his performance and glad once the team got rid of him.
Does this mean we can rule him being good at the NFL level out? Not necessarily. Plenty of offensive linemen struggle initially but figure out how to be more consistent as their career goes on. Kolton Miller, Brian Winters and Ereck Flowers are three players who spring to mind. This may be an extreme long-shot but it’s not out of the question for a player many experts felt was a potential starter before the 2019 draft.
In that regard, the fact the Jets kept Samia in the fold for the entire season and then also signed him to a futures deal suggests he’s shown some promise in practice with them and they even protected him towards the end of the season, suggesting they were prepared to possibly activate and use him as an injury replacement.