Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 220 pounds
School: USC Trojans
Juju Smith-Schuster 2017 NFL Draft Profile
Juju Smith-Schuster declaring for the NFL draft after his junior season at USC was one of the least surprising early entrant announcements of the off-season. From the time he signed his letter of intent with the Trojans, he was seen as a difference maker for the program. He has always had the ability to burn defenses vertically and get separation with his speed.
As a freshman, Smith-Schuster had 54 receptions for 724 yards and five touchdowns, but it was the 10.4 yards per catch average that got people’s attention. He showed an ability to use his 6-2 frame to ward off defenders along the sidelines to get to the ball.
By his sophomore season he was the go-to wide receiver for the Trojans, occasionally drawing double teams from the defense. Still, he had 89 receptions for 1,454 yards and 10 touchdowns and was first team All-Pac 12. The kicker was he never missed a game despite playing most of the season with a metal plate in his right hand after breaking it against Cal.
His junior season, however, was significantly short of his sophomore year and there was talk about his frustration with the offense under new head coach Clay Helton and new quarterback Max Browne. Helton replaced Browne in week four with Sam Darnold and Schuster’s performance went up accordingly. He finished the season with 70 catches for 914 yards and 10 touchdowns and was a second team All-American.
Quick route runner
Keeps routes alive, helping a scrambling quarterback
Good open field speed
Does well going up to get the football
Better than average blocker for a wide receiver
Does not like the contact across the middle of the field.
A little to one-dimensional as a sideline route runner
Needs work on his hand skills
Tends to get up too high with his hips at the break point of a route
NFL Comparison: Brandon Marshall
Teams with a Need at Position: Tennessee, Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore, Buffalo, Philadelphia,
Projection: Early to mid-second round
Smith-Schuster is not likely to burn up the record books in the quantitative drills at the NFL combine where everything is done with a stop watch and a measuring stick. To envision a place for him on your team it is about observing the drills and physical attributes as well as watching hours of game film.
He is one of the top 4-5 receivers in the field for the 2017 draft, but whether there are any franchise changing wide outs in the draft is debatable. It is more likely that teams will take care of other, more pressing needs first. With that being the case, the group, as a position, moves down the board a little and that likely drops Smith-Shuster into the early to middle parts of the second round.
There are several teams that are in need of a wide receiver, not as an instant game changer, but as a replacement for an aging player or as a second option for an elite level player and those are the best fits for a player like Smith-Schuster for at least his first year or two at the next level.