Curtis Samuel always was projected as a second-round pick in this year’s NFL draft, but he didn’t have to wait long once it got underway tonight, with the Carolina Panthers making him the eighth pick in the second round and the 40th overall.

The Panthers, a Super Bowl team two years ago before slipping to mediocrity last season, needed playmakers after losing former Ohio State receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Philly Brown in the offseason. That helps explain why they took Stanford’s record-setting all-purpose yardage producer Christian McCaffrey on Thursday in the first round and Samuel, a hybrid back who led the Buckeyes in receptions last season, in the second.

"It's going to be a great offense,” Samuel told reporters on a conference call after the pick. McCaffrey “is a terrific player. We complement each other well. I'm excited.”

Headed into the draft, Samuel left no doubt about how he saw his value.

“I’m a big-time playmaker, and I’ve done it at the highest level (in college football) against great opponents,” Samuel said. “I know I’m going to come in and make an immediate impact. I adjust to offenses really quick. I’m a great guy off the field. I bring a lot of things to the table.”

He proved that in 2016, with the Ohio State offense dissolving into a put-it-in-Samuel’s hands model down the stretch as he caught passes and ran the ball from the hybrid back position. He scored the winning touchdown in the two-overtime win over Michigan, and he was the only weapon that seemed viable in a 31-0 loss to Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal.

Samuel is the only Ohio State player to top 1,000 yards in career rushing (1,286) and receiving (1,249) totals.

“I can do running back stuff, I can play receiver,” Samuel said. “I’m a dual threat. But at the end of the day I’m a baller.”

He ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the combine in February, as he said, the fastest of his career and that seemed to turn more heads.

“We just got a lot faster,” the Panthers tweeted soon after the pick.