Will an underwhelming junior season be enough to bump USC’s star receiver out of the top 96?
A year ago, JuJu Smith-Schuster was considered the best wide receiver in college football.
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After a disappointing 2016 season, the same can no longer be said.
Smith-Schuster burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2015, finishing with 89 receptions for 1,454 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. His junior campaign was less-than-stellar, as he failed to even top 1,000 yards.
In a draft class loaded with talented pass-catchers, where does Smith-Schuster stand?
Let’s break it down.
Wt: 220 pounds
Hometown: Long Beach, CA
Smith-Schuster’s 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame is the first thing that pops out at you on film. He knows how to throw his weight around and consistently out-muscles opposing defensive backs. The former USC standout is just as difficult to deal with after the catch and is not easily brought down. Few at the position in the draft take more pride in blocking than Smith-Schuster, and even fewer sport such soft hands.
It’s the little things that hold Smith-Schuster back from receiving a higher draft grade, as his biggest issue at this point is route running. The 20-year-old’s footwork at the breakpoint isn’t as sharp as it needs to be, something that’ll have to change if he’s to excel in the pros. This also may have more to do with his number of targets, but Smith-Schuster’s concentration isn’t always there, leading to dropped passes.
Did Smith-Schuster do enough this season ensure himself of a selection within the first three rounds?
I’ll leave that for others to decide, but there’s no question as to whether or not he possesses the tools necessary to produce in the NFL.
Plan on Smith-Schuster getting snatched up around the beginning of the third round.