Steelers will target WR Anthony Schwartz in the 2021 NFL Draft
By Tommy Jaggi
The Steelers have not hidden their interest in Anthony Schwartz. Here’s why the Auburn wide receiver is likely to be drafted by Pittsburgh this April.
The Steelers have sent their brass to many Pro Day’s recently, and the list of players who will be on their draft radar this April is starting to pile up. While it seems relatively clear that Pittsburgh will be targeting running backs, offensive lineman, and cornerbacks early on, it gets increasingly hard to predict which players they will target later on.
One guy who is going to be really high on their radar is Auburn wide receiver, Anthony Schwartz. The Steelers had a virtual visit with Schwartz and Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and wide receiver coach, Ike Hilliard, were all on hand at Auburn’s Pro Day.
Shortly after meeting with Schwartz, Pittsburgh found the money to sign wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to a one-year extension. However, don’t think for a moment that this will deter them from considering Schwartz in the 3rd or 4th round this year.
Why do Steelers have so much interest in Schwartz?
With the personnel the Steelers brought to Auburn’s Pro Day, there’s no question that they have a lot of interest in drafting Anthony Schwartz. But why are they so intrigued?
On paper, Schwartz doesn’t possess the most impressive numbers. Though 2020 was the most productive season of his college career, he managed just 636 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns while averaging just 11.8 yards per catch over 20 games. In addition, Schwartz leaves a lot to be desired in the film room, as he oftentimes looks more like a track star than a natural wide receiver.
Despite his shortcomings, the Steelers know as well as anyone that speed kills in the NFL – particularly at the wide receiver position. In some of Pittsburgh’s best offenses with Ben Roethlisberger, they have had players who could really take the top off the defense. Mike Wallace toasted cornerbacks for four years from 2009 to 2012. In 2014, Martavis Byrant took over the role as one of the best deep threats in the league; however, his fifteen minutes of fame was short-lived due to multiple suspensions.
Fast forward to 2021. Pittsburgh is one of the only teams in the league that we can legitimately say is four-deep at the wide receiver position with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington. While this is a talented group of guys, the Steelers are still missing that one player who can quickly toast cornerbacks down the sideline.
We already knew Schwartz was fast, but after running a 4.26 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, this is confirmation. Still, he’s nowhere near the highest-profile receiver in this draft class. In fact, many don’t view him as the best on his own team (Seth Williams is typically more highly regarded).
Knowing that a player like Anthony Schwartz shouldn’t cost Pittsburgh more than a 3rd round pick at best is probably why they have so much interest in the speedster. With his ability to take reverses, stretch the field, and move in space, he’s a player that Matt Canada would love to have and I almost expect him to end up in Pittsburgh this year. We will see how the chips fall.