What is the one thing teams are always trying to find? There is a simple answer: Speed, speed and even more speed. It is why players who run the fastest 40-yard dashes at the Combine every year are usually selected high. Wide receivers, specifically, can put a lot of stress on a defense when they have elite speed. Those who can take the top off a defense and beat single coverage with pure speed are difficult to stop. These players make the job of defensive coordinators jobs that much harder. Receivers can be elite that win in other areas, but the burners who can score on any given play take a lot of game planning to stop.
Defenses are moving more toward forcing teams to run the football or slowing down drives in hopes of limiting their opponent to field goals. The depth-threat speedster is how offenses counteract that. This year has an excellent wide receiver class, but there is one player who stands among his peers as not only the fastest player in the class, but someone who will enter the league as arguably the fastest in the sport. That man is Anthony Schwartz from Auburn.
It was easy to see going back to high school that Schwartz's speed was just different. He set the youth world record 100-meter in the Florida relays, clocking in at 10.15 seconds. That wasn't even his fastest time. Schwartz also ran a 10.07 100 meter. For context, Henry Ruggs ran a 10.58 in the 100-meter coming out of high school. Ruggs was taken 12th overall last year because of his long speed and there is a significant difference between the two. So with the NFL being so much about speed, why isn't Schwartz being talked about as a first-round pick? Part of it is college production, but that is overstated. When looking at his tape, Schwartz was consistently open downfield. NFL quarterbacks make deep throws with ease. He was also under utilized in the Auburn offense. They manufactured touches, but it always seemed as if they were at inopportune times or when the defense knew it was coming. The Auburn offense also had its struggles. When they were clicking, such as the game against LSU this past season, Schwartz had 123 yards and a touchdown.
When it comes to route-running, Schwartz has the talent to develop into a very good one. He changes direction well and does a good job when it comes to his stop/start. With an NFL coaching staff and wide receivers coach, as well as natural development, that shouldn't be an issue for Schwartz.
At his Pro Day this year, Schwartz clocked in with a 4.25 40 yard dash. What was most impressive was that it looked like he was gaining speed at the finish. When comparing his 40 to a lot of the other top wideouts, Schwartz just moved at a different level. Schwartz is one of the fastest people on the planet from yards 40-100, yet he still ran a 4.25. In the right offense, he could be unstoppable. The amount of stress Schwartz would be able to put on a defense is incredible. Give him a quarterback like Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes with the weapons each team already has and Schwartz can be a difference-maker early. Opponents will have to give him safety help, giving his teammates less attention. Schwartz will eventually get open, so a quarterback who can extend plays will be hitting him downfield a lot.
In a vertical offense, Schwartz has what it takes to be on the All-Rookie team. He'll do well in any offense, but his ability would be maximized on a team that wants to throw the ball downfield. Schwartz's best football is ahead of him and he has the skill set to eventually end up as the best deep threat in the NFL.
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