Green Bay Packers

A Hidden Gem WR the Packers Could Steal In the Draft

Photo Credit: John Reed (USA TODAY Sports)

The Green Bay Packers need another wide receiver, and they have not drafted one in the first round since 2002. Odds are they won’t this year either. They are selecting at 29, meaning top receivers like Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith will be off the board. Therefore, given the combination of the Packers’ draft tendencies and where they are picking, they would need to find value in the mid to late rounds of the draft.

Auburn’s Anthony Schwartz is potentially a mid- to late-round steal who would be a perfect fit for the Packers.

Schwartz has been one of the fastest receivers in college football for the last three years. He ran a 4.26 40 at Auburn’s pro day, had a 10.5-second 100-meter dash in high school, and led the U.S. to a gold medal at the U20 2018 World Championship in the 4×100 meter relay.

Clearly, Schwartz has the speed that Green Bay’s receivers room needs, but how do his football skills stack up?

In three years at Auburn, Schwartz had 1,433 yards on 117 receptions and six touchdowns. He added 323 rushing yards with seven touchdowns on the ground. He was a consistent deep threat who could take the top off the defense on any play. Schwartz also excelled at underneath routes such as drags and constantly turned two-yard dump-offs into first downs.

For a “track guy,” he had great over-the-shoulder catching ability, and he torched the secondary every time there was a miscommunication, or a defensive back was unable to match his speed. Most of his rushing yards came from jet sweeps and reverses. He broke off an unreal 57-yard touchdown run against Texas A&M in 2019. They had no way to slow him down in that game. He scored three touchdowns: the 57-yarder, a 76-yarder, and another that was 91.

The Packers need a dynamic receiver to take pressure off Davante Adams, and with Schwartz’s speed, he demands attention on every play. While there may be doubts about Schwartz’s abilities as a receiver, it is reassuring that the wideout he played alongside at Auburn is eerily reminiscent of Adams.

Seth Williams is practically a clone of the Packers’ star WR: Both are 6’3”, 215 pounds, and have similar playing styles. Both are amazing possession receivers who excel at toe-tapping along the sideline, and they are arguably the best at catching one-on-one jump balls at their respective levels.

The duo of Schwartz and Williams created huge problems for defenses because their skill sets complemented each other.

So why is a receiver who played at an SEC school, who just ran a 4.26 40, being overlooked? Well, former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has not had the best track record of preparing receivers for the next level. A former NFL GM referred to Malzahn’s offense as the worst he has ever seen. Very few Auburn Tigers who played in Malzahn’s offense have smoothly transitioned to the NFL.

This is partly due to his misuse of his offensive players’ skill sets. Schwartz was heavily underutilized in his time at Auburn. He ran a limited route tree consisting of go-routes, drags, and screens. The ball was not distributed to him in creative ways, and Auburn fans only would see glimpses of his potential when he would take the top off the top of the defense. If Schwartz played in a scheme that fit his talents, he would likely be a first-round pick.

Luckily for Packers fans, Schwartz should thrive in Green Bay’s offensive scheme. He would complement Adams and take pressure off him from the slot. He could line up anywhere on the field because his speed demands so much attention. The best way to take pressure off a No. 1 receiver is always to have other weapons around him that require accounting for on every play.

Schwartz also adds a rushing threat for the Packers’ offense because he can take jet sweeps and reverses. Simply faking these plays would create more opportunities for other receivers to get open. Clearly, Aaron Rodgers has wanted a dynamic weapon for quite some time, and with Schwartz’s speed, he could even play a Tyreek Hill-type role for the Green Bay offense. Imagine that.

There is still a chance for the Packers to address the lackluster receiving core in free agency, but every day we have to watch Green Bay free up more cap space and still not make a move in free agency. More likely than not, it will be another year of no big free-agency signings, and no first-round picks spent on a wide receiver.

Expect the Packers to attempt to find value in the mid to later rounds of the draft yet again, and don’t be surprised if they select Schwartz. He will surely need some coaching due to Auburn’s unfortunately unique offensive scheme. But Schwartz remains a hidden gem in this year’s draft, and the Packers are in the perfect position to take him.

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