We already know that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is good. Even very good. In spite of the fact that he received only the second-most targets on the team last season, his 111 receptions and 1426 yards led the team and were also among the lead leaders as he made his first Pro Bowl in his second season.
And he did that, mostly at the age of 21, but early into his 22nd year. He will not turn 23 until November, so he is certainly among the youngest of the exciting young players around the league. Which is why it’s no surprise to find him among the top 25 players under the age of 25, a list created by Pro Football Focus. The list is limited to those who will be under the age of 25 at the start of the 2019 season.
“With Antonio Brown now out of town, the thankless task of carrying the Pittsburgh passing attack will fall on the young shoulders of third-year receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, but that’s a task that he’s proved to be more than capable of doing”, the entry reads.
“After running 64.4% of his career routes from the slot, Smith-Schuster has amassed the most slot-receiving yards of any wide receiver (1,342) over the last two years, while his 110.0 slot WR rating ranks seventh among qualifying pass-catchers in that span”.
Smith-Schuster wasn’t even targeted during his first career game, but he would score his first touchdown a week later. His role gradually ascended over the course of his rookie season before he ultimately passed Martavis Bryant on the depth chart by the end of the year as a full-time starter.
He finished his rookie campaign with 58 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns, doing so in 14 games. He missed one game due to injury and another due to a suspension that frankly was a knee-jerk reaction from the NFL headquarters that, like George Iloka’s that same week from the same game, should have been overturned.
Of course he broke out in a big way last season, tying for sixth in the league in receptions and placing fifth in receiving yards. He is the first player in NFL history to record two receiving touchdowns of 97 yards or longer.
And he will be on this list for another two years, most likely, so he won’t be entering a season at the age of 25 until the 2022 season. By then he might not even be on the Steelers anymore. He might have a mustache of some exotic color. Who knows.