Chiefs movie review: Juju Smith-Schuster blends physicality with dynamic receptivity

We all imagined what it would be like if the big names in the broad receiver market like Allen Robinson or Amari Cooper joined the Kansas City Chiefs. But a more realistic option — signing the former Pittsburgh Steelers wide with Juju Smith-Schuster for a short-term deal — might end up being enough for the role that really needs to be filled.

When the signing was announced Friday, I had immediate thoughts about what role he could have in Kansas City.

However, I wanted to get a deeper understanding of what Smith Schuster could be like by looking at his performance in recent seasons. A shout out to my colleague Brian Stewart for introducing multiple clips.


At nearly 6 feet 215 pounds, Smith Schuster plays like the bulkier receiver that he is, using his strength in all aspects of his game. That also relates to his 97th percentile hand size—along with his 74th percentile arm length—from the 2017 NFL Combine measurements.

In five seasons with the Steelers, Smith Schuster picked up 323 passes at a segment of 11.9 yards per reception, and scored 27 touchdowns total. In his only Pro Bowl season in 2018, he had 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns alongside Antonio Brown.

How was it used?

Photographed by Justin K. Aller / Getty Images

In Pittsburgh, Smith-Schuster’s primary responsibility was to take fast passes and turn them into winning wins. In five games last season, more than 75% of his goals came within nine yards of the line of scrimmage. In 2020, this number was 71.3%. To get those short passes more efficiently, the Steelers have put him in the slot with more than 80% of his shots in each of the last two seasons.

Over the past few seasons, the Steelers’ quarterbacks’ limitations have been the primary driver of Smith Schuster’s specialist role — but he was still productive.

For its size, Smith Schuster has an impressive blast and blaster. Appears when he catches swing passes (or other quick throws) in which he actually moves while catching the ball. After securing it, it quickly descends. Once it gains momentum, it is difficult to regain it; It always ends up being forward (and through) interventions.

At the same time, Smith-Schuster can overcome the line of melee with a strong hand and fast feet. Then – depending on the cover gun – he has the straight line velocity to create the separation. Like some top-rack receivers, it doesn’t explode from breaks—but after a few steps, it can hit a very high speed.

Pittsburgh liked to align Smith Schuster near the offensive line, where he could also use his strength to be an effective blocker in a running game. He can hold up well enough to be reliable for hunting down excellent defenders, but will have the advantage in most blocking clashes with defensive appearances – and sometimes midfielders.

How does he fit in with the chiefs?

NFL: AFC Wild Card Playoffs-Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

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Smith-Schuster will join a crime that already has traffic hunters who understand their role in the crime. The tight-fitting Travis Kelce and wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman have plenty of experience with how to implement them, so it’ll be hard for a newcomer to feel comfortable as a versatile player who is moved based on how others are used.

But one way or another, the Chiefs will play a lot of 11 (one running back, narrow end and three wide receivers) and Smith Schuster will be on the field. When primary methods involve opening Hill and Kelce, Smith-Schuster can be a reliable option to win against secondary coverage defenders — and in a variety of ways.

Smith Schuster may be trapped in a certain role with the Steelers, but he has the sportsmanship (and playmaking instinct) to take a step and step into an open space – both vertically and horizontally. He will build up his speed in his vertical patterns just as he does once the ball is in his hands; His long speed is shown before and after the ball is thrown.

So it can provide the ability to make games in both fast and long development modes – but at the pickup point, it should also be an upgrade. This is often seen in the red zone, where he holds his hand firmly and can finish through contact.

Over the past two seasons, he’s taken four drops on 176 goals – a drop rate of just 2.3%. Last season (including the playoffs), Byron Pringle had seven drops with an 11.5% drop rate. Hardman got four drops with an average of 5.6%.

Therefore, while Smith Schuster should be a reliable target, he would fit into a secondary receiving role in the Kansas City crime. It shouldn’t be called upon to be the primary choice on downfield roads, but it will make use of the open space in many ways – and it should be trusted to make tough, tight hunts.

bottom line

With this signature, the Chiefs improved their pass offense. Smith Schuster instantly became the most talented wide receiver in Kansas City no It’s called Tyreek Hill, to fill a void that’s been around since Sammy Watkins was in town – and he’s been healthy.

What he adds to crime is exactly what the chiefs need from their secondary receivers. If all of his strengths were used to the maximum – whether as a receiver or a blocker – it should be a big reason why opposing defenses wouldn’t be able to sit in deeper, softer mantles.

His skills will either force him to tweak defenses – which will open up the field for other playmakers – or he will be very productive with the benefit of the coverage that his new teammates attract. Either way, his presence should add an extra dimension to the crime bosses.