One of the things that attracted the Pittsburgh Steelers to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the 2017 NFL Draft was because they believed he possessed the versatility to excel anywhere on the field, either in the slot or on the outside.
While he has emerged as one of the top threats out of the slot over the course of his first two seasons, he has logged a decent amount of time outside as well, and late in the game on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wanted to get him there to take advantage of the matchups that it provided, with great results.
The second-year receiver caught eight passes for 104 yards during the game, but seven of them for 96 yards came from outside, and most of that occurred late in the game, including both of his huge plays on their final two drives that gave them the margin of victory.
He played 62 snaps in the game, with 31 of them ultimately coming outside, and over two thirds of them came in the fourth quarter. That included a simple quick slant for eight yards on second and four to cross midfield against A.J. Bouye.
Later in the game, it was Jalen Ramsey’s turn to go against Smith-Schuster on the outside on second and one from just across midfield. The young receiver didn’t do anything particularly fancy, only making a fantastic adjustment and showing late hands on a back shoulder throw.
With under two minutes to play, Bouye got his turn again to play the victim, with Smith-Schuster getting him to hesitate just a bit on a double move. That was enough to get by him and for Roethlisberger to get the ball over the top for a 35-yard completion down to the Jaguars’ 27.
That double move was something that the receiver even mentioned after the game as being a big part of the team’s victory. While Smith-Schuster logged a lot of time outside in the second half of his rookie season due to injuries and suspensions, this was the most extensive work he has seen outside this year, and he left a good impression in that role.