JuJu Smith-Schuster is off to play with the star studded Pittsburgh Steelers offense. The Steelers, who were looking for a talented wide receiver to help in this draft, selected him second round as the 62nd overall pick. Surrounded by arguably the best players in the league (by position) in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and running back Le'veon Bell, Smith-Schuster could thrive as a #2 or 3 wide out.
Although Pittsburgh has solid wideouts in Antonio Brown outside and Eli Rogers in slot, they have big question marks surrounding other WR Martavis Bryant fresh off suspension and Sammie Coates’ recent groin surgery following a shaky 2016 campaign.
Smith Schuster is a big, physical, play making receiver, with great hands and above average route running skills. Although he lacks the top-end elite speed to stretch defenses vertically, he has incredible body control, can adjust to the ball in the air and has the knack for coming down with difficult catches.
How he fits:
Look for coach Mike Tomlin to utilize Smith-Schuster in several different packages this season playing his, 6’2 215 pound frame as both an outside and slot receiver. He’ll look to get a feel at how his game transitions in the NFL (which should be a smooth transition). Also look for JuJu to compete for starting playing time against both Bryant and Coates. With this draft pick both players performances have been put on alert and there will be an odd man out come 2018. In typical scenarios, 2nd round WR look to be immediate or future #1 receivers for their teams, however JuJu’s case is a little different. Given Brown is an incredible wideout, JuJu will have much more pressure and attention taken off him to start his career, which can help him settle in and sneak up on defenses. If he can bring his physicality to the NFL and produce early look for him to develop a solid career opposite of Antonio Brown.
Why he’s a good fit:
Being under the wing of the best wide out in the game (yes, bring on your Julio Jones arguments I dare you) will do wonders for Smith Schuster. While Brown can’t do much to help JuJu’s one real (slight) flaw (speed), he can help turn him into an extremely polished wideout that maximizes his size and athletic ability. Oh, and also having Big Ben as your QB doesn’t hurt, as he has the capability to “throw a receiver open” at anytime. Also great running back’s like Bell keep the offense balanced and force extra run support from the secondary, leaving Smith-Schuster more space to work with.
JuJu Smith-Schuster joins an experienced, talented offense with an immediate opportunity to fight and earn a starting job. If he earns it (which I think he will) look for him to produce near the top for rookie WR’s for a playoff team with championship aspirations.