The Pittsburgh Steelers made the move to acquire Ryan Switzer from the Oakland Raiders for the purpose of finding a steady and reliable return man that would give them somebody that, quite frankly, would allow them to stop worrying about needing to play their top offensive stars in those roles.
So far, they have gotten a bit more than they have bargained for in the 5’8” second-year wide receiver, who has solidified himself as the team’s number four wide receiver, and occasionally cameos as their number three as well.
Through 10 games, the 2017 Dallas Cowboys draft pick who has already been dealt twice has 21 receptions on the season, which is three and a half times what he saw during his rookie season. Over the past three weeks along, he has eight catches for 80 yards, several of them coming on third down.
His contributions have been noteworthy especially considering the fact that he, like Vance McDonald a year ago, did not have the luxury of experiencing an offseason with the team. For a player who was traded not once but twice in that time, for him to end up doing what he has is impressive.
Late in the Steelers’ last game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, in fact, the team showed their confidence in him by playing him a lot in the fourth quarter, whereas much of his previous work came during niche sets, such as out of the 01 personnel formation.
“It is a process. I really feel like I’m coming into my own as a player”, he told Jeremy Fowler recently. “I feel like I’m getting back to who I was in college, the playmaker I was. You bounce around, get traded twice and you don’t really know why. I knew it wasn’t a talent issue, it wasn’t a hard work issue, it just wasn’t working out. Now, I do feel like I have a home”.
One thing I like about him—and supposedly something some Cowboys fans didn’t like—is that he certainly is not lacking in confidence in his abilities. His comments remind me somewhat of T.J. Watt leading up to his rookie season in expressing belief in his abilities without crossing over into arrogance.
While the goal is for rookie James Washington to eventually wind his way regularly into the number three receiver role, Switzer I think has made himself a legitimate option as a slot option that is capable of creating separation.
The next couple of years could be interesting with all of Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Washington, and Switzer under contract for at least that duration. First-year offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner has seemed to make clear that four-receiver sets are something that is going to be a regular presence, so we could see that August trade for the overlooked, unwanted, undersized wideout continue to pay dividends unlooked for in the years to come.