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Late Speed at WR: The Anthony Schwartz Intrigue, and a Reasoned Approach to a Lesser-Known Alternative


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I know we have a pretty impressive WR stable, but as McD said in one of his offseason pressers: You don't want to lose your fastball... Or your fast ball-catchers, either!

 

I feel like we can all agree that speed at WR, and another potential KR/PR should at least be on the day three radar for McBeane & Co.

 

While Diggs is in his prime, and locked up for a bit, and Gabriel Davis is primed for a productive 2nd season, we also need to admit that Sanders is 34, on a 1 year deal, and Beasley ain't getting any younger.

 

Multiple draft outlets have indicated that the Bills have been in contact with Auburn speed demon WR Anthony Schwartz (one of the fastest WR's in the draft). So, I went and checked out some of his film (granted, mostly highlight reels), and I saw some good and some bad:

 

The Good:

 

-His speed is as advertised.

 

-Was incorporated into McKenzie-esque jet-sweeps, pitches, and short passes, so he's not just a go-route WR.

 

-Elite playmaker.

 

The Bad:

 

-Hands were notably iffy.

 

-He runs fast, but not with fluidity. He's prone to stiff, track-honed movements, which do accelerate his speed, but I'm afraid he will generate only straight-line separation, and not the kind of loose, bursty separation we see out of gems like Beasley and Diggs.

 

-There were a number of highlights where I saw complete lack of situational awareness.

    a) Specifically, a number of sideline plays where yeah... he scored a TD, but he was carrying the ball in his field-side arm... That's J.V. High School level stuff you need to

         know (I know... I only made it to J.V. level football, and although I wasn't good enough to advance, I made sure to switch the ball to my sideline-side arm, every chance I

         had). In the NFL, that will lead to strip-fumbles and turnovers, and it's a danger to any offense.

    b) While he did frequently take the one-cut-and-go approach that some praise, he displayed a penchant for hyper-focusing on the straightest shot at the goal line, while

         ignoring the field around him. This allowed DB's and/or safeties who were already behind him to take angles so they could tackle him before he scored. Essentially, he

         lacked creativity in the open field, on a number of catches, and while his God-given speed allowed him to score on many occasions, the smarter DC's and defensive

         backfields in the NFL will be more likely to be able to contain the lack of creativity he shows.

 

-Schwartz didn't have a lot of tape of kickoff or punt returns. Now, granted: I may just have missed this tape, or the Auburn staff may have had another player they wanted to feature for KR/PR; I don't know. This could be a hidden strength, or I could be completely off, here.

 

-And, finally, the word is out on Schwartz, so the price-tag is higher. Essentially, there have been reports of over a dozen teams having met with Schwartz, due to his raw speed. This drives up his apparent value (in terms of when a team will need to draft him, in order to beat out other suitors), essentially escalating a bidding war among teams with the need for speed (hey... we are in that mix, post-John Brown).

 

While many sources have been mocking Schwartz in the 5th or 6th, this kind of competition for his admittedly rare and blazing speed could push one team (and it only takes one team to remove him from the board) to select him earlier than may be warranted. I see him going in the 4th (where we don't have a pick), and (IMO) our 3rd is far too early to take him.

 

So, with that in mind, I offer you a 5th or (fingers crossed) 6th round burner WR who:

 

-Has comparable speed to Schwartz.

 

-Has proven highlight reels, showing his situational awareness (i.e. ball-carrying), fluidity, and not just willingness, but a near-preternatural sense of knowing when to make a ridiculous cut-back, to generate space to continue a carry to the proverbial "House".

 

-Has a good amount of KR tape, and it is electric.

 

-Exhibits Diggs and Davis-like sideline swag.

 

-Unafraid of middle-of-the-field contact.

 

-He demonstrates the ability to adjust to passes thrown behind him (almost Sanders-esque, if I do say so).

 

-Is getting nowhere near the draftnik buzz, so his apparent draft value is much, much lower than Schwartz's (and, hence, why I feel as though we have a shot with our 2nd 5th round pick, or our 6th round pick).

 

Who is this late round sleeper?

 

Marquez Stevenson - WR - Houston

 

I don't want to bombard with film, but here are a few highlight reels showing the versatility and dynamism Stevenson has to offer. If he is there at our 2nd 5th or our 6th, and we take him, I would be very, very pleased:

 

 

 

 

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Kinda like it from his highlights. Seems more of a hands catcher and definitely not the most polished routes when looking at these highlights but if his job is to be a returner/field stretcher, why not? I'm still hoping for Schwartz with a trade-up into the back of the 4th.

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We have enough guys like Knox who couldn’t be relied upon to catch the ball.  Wasn’t it Marquise Goodwin who was fast, but only caught half of the balls thrown to him.  He drove me nuts.

 

Edge

CB

TE

1Tec DT

RB

 

Now there’s a great draft if four of them pan out OT be eventual starters.  I’d even take Big Nickel S, or undersized fast LB to play that role.

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Color me intrigued.
 

His speed was obvious and (highlights, I understand) he seemed to have good spacial awareness. 
 

He will have the best route runners to teach him and hone his craft. 
 

JA + young speed receiver. I like it. 

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The type of player you can take in the middle/late rounds that you dont have to start right away.......I like it.

 

Honestly I would not write off Sanders as a one year and done player....the bills have been trying to get their hands on him for a while.   We do need to see what he has left before offering him an extension.

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That kid is blazing fast. You can see he's got an extra gear he kicks into when he sees open space. You can't teach that. I'd spend a 5th or a 6th on him and let him learn the finer points of the game from Diggs/Beasley. I could envision Josh hitting him on those intermediate routes and him getting loose for a TD. You can never have too many playmakers on offense. I had not seen anything on this guy prior to this post. Nice find ROC. :thumbsup:

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28 minutes ago, H2o said:

That kid is blazing fast. You can see he's got an extra gear he kicks into when he sees open space. You can't teach that. I'd spend a 5th or a 6th on him and let him learn the finer points of the game from Diggs/Beasley. I could envision Josh hitting him on those intermediate routes and him getting loose for a TD. You can never have too many playmakers on offense. I had not seen anything on this guy prior to this post. Nice find ROC. :thumbsup:

 

Thanks much! Yeah, I was going through some late round WRs, because I kept hearing that this class is deeper than the media buzz has let on, and the mock simulations I was running kept giving me a lot of WR options in those later rounds. I wanted to find out why that kept happening, so I dug into a few guys, and I was very pleasantly surprised that there wasn't much buzz on Stevenson, relative to what I was seeing on film. Now, obviously, what NFL scouts and GMs think is a whole 'nother ballgame, and he could go earlier than I perceive he will, but if he's there, I'd be delighted if we took him with that second 5th or our 6th. Fingers crossed 🤞

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Marquez Stevenson ran a 4.45 40 at his pro day. Schwartz ran a 4.26.  In what universe is that comparable?  4.45 is fast enough to be a legit deep threat, but if Stevenson aspires to be a special receiver in the NFL, 4.45 speed is not what is getting him there.

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40 times don’t equal production...just go get John Ross for a bag of doughnuts. He runs 4.19 but never put it together. 

Its more about burst and ability to accelerate in those first steps after that first move than that flat out 40 time. 

 

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Great post!  This is why I love the draft...there will be a guy I've never heard of before and then instantly become enamored 😄

 

My other new late round receiver that I want in a Bills jersey next year is Tamorrion Terry.  I've seen lots of analysis that says his floor would be that of Marquez Valdes-Scantling and that would definitely be okay by me.

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So killer speed and iffy hands.

 

Older poster here, so my mind immediately recalls Don Beebe. Would blow by everyone then juggle the ball for 15 yards while everyone held their breath. A receiver with the distinct irony of being most famous for his standout defensive play in our lopsided SB loss to Dallas.

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