The NY Jets did a good job of bolstering their wide receiver corps in free agency this offseason. But if they still plan to address the position in the 2020 NFL Draft, one player who makes sense as a mid-round target is Anthony Schwartz.
Schwartz gained fame even before arriving on Auburn’s campus as one of the nation’s most high-profile track stars. He was named Broward County Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2017 before committing to Auburn in 2018.
From there, he would receive the Gatorade National Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year award in 2018 before helping lead the United States to a gold medal in the 4×100 meter relay at the 2018 U-20 World Championships.
Schwartz made an immediate impact during his true freshman year at Auburn as a do-it-all offensive playmaker. He finished the year with 22 receptions for 357 yards and carried the ball an additional 27 times for 211 yards and five touchdowns.
A preseason thumb injury hindered his progress in his junior season, but he emerged in 2020 as one of Auburn’s best wide receivers leading the team with 54 catches for 636 yards.
The Tigers began to use him much more as an actual wide receiver as opposed to a gadget player and it clearly paid off. He still has his weaknesses, but Schwartz’s speed alone should make him a very intriguing prospect.
Anthony Schwartz’s strengths
Anthony Schwartz might have been the fastest player in college football over the last few years. In fact, some even crowned him with that very title.
His track speed is evident whether he’s streaking down the field on a vertical route, running after the catch on a slant, or taking a jet sweep handoff in the backfield.
Schwartz ran a blazing fast 4.26 40-yard dash at Auburn’s pro day, just 0.04 seconds off the NFL Combine record set by John Ross back in 2017. And even aside from his speed, he’s gradually improved as an overall receiver.
The Florida native has improved quite a bit as a route-runner and his nimble feet allow him to make quick cuts at the top of his routes. He must work on his consistency, but Schwartz has the tools to develop into a valuable part of any offense.
Anthony Schwartz’s weaknesses
For as talented as Schwartz is, his lack of reliability in the passing game will undoubtedly hurt his draft stock. Schwartz will infuriate coaches with his inconsistent hands as he totaled a whopping six drops this past year.
On top of that, despite his potential to become a game-changing vertical threat, he’s struggled to track balls downfield. When on target, he has little trouble making the over-the-shoulder grab.
But if asked to adjust on a ball thrown a little off the mark, he hasn’t been able to do so consistently. Unless that’s improved, he’ll never be able to reach his full potential as a downfield burner.
Moreover, Schwartz has a narrow frame and although he can be dangerous after the catch, he too often was brought down on first contact. At just 180 pounds, don’t expect Schwartz to be breaking many tackles unless he can outrun defenders.
NY Jets prediction
The Jets are one of the teams that have reportedly met with Schwartz in the weeks/months leading up to the draft, indicating that they are at least interested.
Given his speed and versatility to contribute in both the short passing game and in a variety of roles on offense, that makes some sense.
Schwartz is a good fit in new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s system which places a heavy emphasis on speed and athleticism. And at just 20-years-old (he doesn’t turn 21 until September), there’s plenty of untapped potential with Schwartz’s game.
Auburn’s limited passing attack hardly maximized his abilities leading many to believe that he could become a more productive player in the pros.
Schwartz could be confined to more of a slot role in the NFL, but that could mean he’s groomed to take over for Jamison Crowder once his contract expires after the 2021 season.
The Jets could use additional wide receiver depth and Schwartz is an intriguing Day 3 target given his speed and potential fit in the team’s new offensive scheme.