2017 NFL Draft
Prospect: Juju Smith-Schuster
Prospect: Juju Smith-Schuster
Ht: 6'-2" Wt: 220
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Smith-Schuster is a prime example of a player with excellent upside and very little polish. He is a big play waiting to happen, no matter where he is on the field. Still, he has gotten lost at times early in 2016 because he isn't exactly a skilled route-runner. His big plays tend to come on deep routes or short screens and crossing patterns designed specifically to get him the ball in the open field. While that doesn't make him a bad football receiver, it does limit how often he can get the ball. As his junior year progresses, I am interested in seeing him prove he can be a complete player.
As an athlete, he has everything scouts love. He has good size for the position (6'2") and near-great speed as well. He also looks explosive with the ball in his hands. As a defensive coordinator, I would find it difficult not to have a safety on his half of the field. Leaving a corner on him with no immediate help deep is just asking for trouble. He is agile and physical enough to get off the press with ease, and there aren't many corners that are going to keep up with them if he gets a head start on them. Safeties also have to be mindful of getting out of their backpedal before he gets to their level.
As mentioned, he is just as good with the ball in his hands. Shallow crossing routes and screens are just as dangerous when he is running them. Not only does he have good speed, but his size is a bit imposing, similar to Dez Bryant. I just don't know how many defensive backs would be thrilled to see him at full speed with the ball in his hands in the open field. He can outrun defenders in pursuit just as easily as break arm tackles.
While he does show good hands in the open, I do worry about how often he loses on the 50/50 balls. From the five tapes I have watched, I just don't see him come down with many contested catches. That worries me about his focus more than his ball skills. When there is a lot of hand-fighting or contact or the threat of being in the crosshairs of a defender closing in, it isn't easy to stay locked in on the ball. Still, he has to develop that dog-like mentality. When that ball is in the air, nothing else exists.
He also has to make the most of his physical abilities. Running routes is a complex process that involves more than just raw athleticism. He has to learn to set up defenders by eating up their cushion and attacking their shoulders. When a receiver gets a defender out of their backpedal early, it forces them to declare themselves. If you can turn them to the sideline just to break down and curl your route inside or cut across the field on a dig route, you are going to get very good separation. The same goes when they declare inside, and you break it off to the sideline.
Another part of the process involves coming in and out of your breaks. Smith-Schuster has the ability to do this, he just needs to clean up his technique. He has to drop his hips quicker to minimize the amount of steps prior to his break. He also needs to get his head around quicker. The hips will follow your head naturally. Most importantly, that first step out of the break has to be an explosion in the new direction, and he has to accelerate through it from there. If he can clean this up, he is going to be a tough player to defend against.
As mentioned he is also very physical, and that should help him at the next level. He competes hard although there are occasional lapses when he knows the ball isn't coming his way. Still, his energy can change the momentum of a game. If he develops that savvy, necessary to become a complete receiver, he has the ability to be a top 10 talent. If not, he could slide in the first round similar to guys like Corey Coleman and Will Fuller who lacked polish at the position last April.
Compares to (Current NFL Player): Torrey Smith (San Francisco 49ers)
- Great combination of size and speed
- Physical player that competes
- Dangerous with the ball in his hands
- Extra gear on deep routes
- Good ball skills
- Undeveloped route-runner
- Can look disinterested when he knows ball isn't coming his way
- Doesn't win enough on 50/50 balls
1)   Ranking Pac-12's best football players   - Daily Californian |
2)   Today's Pigskin NFL Draft roundup: JuJu Smith-Schuster needs a QB   - Today's Pigskin
3)   Wolf: USC cannot afford to squander JuJu Smith-Schuster's talent again
- DailyNews.com |
4)   Juju Smith-Schuster Twitter|
5)   Juju Smith-Schuster Instagram|