JuJu Smith-Schuster Scouting Report By Charlie Campbell
Wins 50-50 passes
Has the strength to outfight defensive backs
Attacks the football
Gritty player; plays with an attitude
Experienced and successful against good college programs
Ready to contribute
Could struggle to separate from NFL cornerbacks
Not a deep threat
Has to maintain focus
Summary: USC has been producing a lot of wide receiver talent for the NFL, and Smith-Schuster will keep that tradition going in 2017. He was the replacement for Marquis Lee, and like Lee, Smith-Schuster made a quick impact for the Trojans. In 2014, Smith-Schuster had an impressive freshman season as he totaled 54 catches for 724 yards and five touchdowns.
In 2015, Smith-Schuster was excellent with 85 receptions for 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns as the No. 1 receiver for Cody Kessler. Smith-Schuster hauled in 90 receptions for 914 yards and 10 scores in 2016. The junior's steady play helped quarterback Sam Darnold to have a breakout season.
For the NFL, Smith-Schuster is a big, strong, possession receiver. He routinely used his size and strength to make catches over defensive backs for 50-50 passes. That made Smith-Schuster very dangerous in the red zone. Even though he isn't very fast, Smith-Schuster has some excellent run-after-the-catch skills. He can pick up yards by getting North and South while also being tough to tackle in open field. On wide receiver screens, Smith-Schuster is dangerous.
Smith-Schuster is a very good receiver running quick slants, digs and crosses. Those are the basic routes of the west coast offense, and Smith-Schuster would be a good fit in that scheme. His skills would suit him well to being hit on the run with quick passes and allow him to run after the catch. He is adept to weave around defenders and break tackles with his size and strength.
Smith-Schuster could struggle to separate from NFL cornerbacks, who will be able to run with him. It also will be harder to complete 50-50 passes against them because they're bigger than the corners Smith-Schuster typically faced in college. Smith-Schuster is not vertically explosive, thus separating will be a challenge in his route-running.
Teams feel that Smith-Schuster could be a very good No. 2 receiver in the NFL. WalterFootball.com knows some teams that are considering Smith-Schuster with early second-round picks.
Player Comparison: Mohamed Sanu. Smith-Schuster's game is similar to Sanu as possession receivers who can be effective as No. 2 wideouts in the NFL. They are similar in size, and Sanu (6-2, 210) is a run-after-the-catch receiver like Smith-Schuster. Sanu and Smith-Schuster have comparable speed as well. Sanu was a second-day pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, and Smith-Schuster will slip to Day 2.
NFL Matches: San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Baltimore, Dallas and New Orleans
There could be a lot of teams in the market for an upgrade at wide receiver, so Smith-Schuster should be a Friday night selection.
The 49ers badly need more wide receiver talent, while the Bears may have to replace Alshon Jeffery. The Rams need more receiving for the disappointing Jared Goff, and Jones could be an asset to helping Goff improve in his second season. Thus, Smith-Schuster could easily go high in the second round.
Buffalo needs a wide receiver to pair with Sammy Watkins. The Bills badly need a reliable receiver to help their passing offense when Watkins is out of the lineup and exploit teams sending double coverage his direction. A dependable receiver like Smith-Schuster could be a good complement as a second-round pick.
The Eagles have to get more weapons for Carson Wentz. After making some free agent signings like Alshon Jeffery to a 1-year deal, Philadelphia probably won't take a receiver in the first round. Smith-Schuster could still be in play for the Eagles in Round 2. The Ravens could consider Smith-Schuster as they need a replacement for Steve Smith.
Tennessee needs to find more receiving weapons for Marcus Mariota. Smith-Schuster could be in play for the Titans if he slips to one of their third-round picks.
The Buccaneers signed DeSean Jackson in free agency, so with Smith-Schuster and Mike Evans on the outside, Tampa Bay could have a dangerous trio for Jameis Winston. Getting a big a receiver like Smith-Schuster on Day 2 would make sense.
Kansas City supposedly wanted Laquon Treadwell last year, so adding more receiving talent to go with Jeremy Maclin could be a possibility. Dallas re-signed Terrance Williams, but considering the durability issues of Dez Bryant, the team could use another receiver for Dak Prescott.
The Saints traded away Brandin Cooks and could consider adding more receiving talent if they don't like any defensive players available. Smith-Schuster could be in play for New Orleans.