Can JuJu Smith Break the USC WR Curse?

By Alexander C. Lawrence

NCAA Football Player Profile – JuJu Smith-Schuster, Wide Receiver

School: USC
Year:
Junior
Height: 6’2
Weight:
220lbs

JuJu Smith-Schuster is one of the best wide receivers in this draft class. We’ve seen him time and time again make huge plays throughout his Trojan career. He showed quickly he had what it took to be a playmaker, rising to SC’s top WR, drawing opposing team’s number one cornerback and even double coverage match-ups during his junior year at The University of Southern California. The nation took notice. One thing in particular that proved to be one of Smith-Schuster’s better skills was his ability to get downfield and be a vertical threat.

When you look at him you love his upside. He has great speed and with his size combination, he possess the skills to be a successful number one WR for a team. There were times he was shut out. Most notably in the season opener against Alabama while starting the year with a new QB. Scouts were looking to see if he could develop into that receiver with great break-away speed from NFL corners and in that regard he didn’t show it. That game alone may seriously take a hit on his draft stock and force him into a day-2 selection. People feared he was going to suffer and see a significant production decrease like his former teammates; NFL pros Marqise Lee (Jaguars) and Robert Woods (Bills). Yes that did happen, but remember he went through three different QBs over the course of two seasons which is why looking at numbers doesn’t do him justice to showcase the athlete he is.

Pros:

  • Knows how to block on run plays
  • Big middle-of-the-field target
  • Can be a vertical threat
  • Physicality
  • Good upside to be number one WR
  • Gets a lot of yards after the catch
  • Reliable pass-catcher
  • Good size makes him an effective redzone target
  • Above average route-runner

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have elite speed
  • Needs to improve on getting out of breaks
  • Has been shut-down against top college CBs

 

JuJu Smith-Schuster has the ability to be a steal in the draft because he doesn’t have elite speed to prove he can separate himself from top DBs. That being said I think he’d make an excellent second or third receiver because he knows how to hold on to the ball and get yards after the catch. He has a natural nose for the end-zone and shows his quickness along with play-making ability make him a nice big target for a team.Watch for him if he gets drafted by the right team as he could pan out similiar to Saints 2nd Round pick in 2016,  Michael Thomas. You can’t deny the high upside.

Draft projection: Late 1st round-mid 2nd round

Comparison: Laquan Treadwell

 

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