2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: North Carolina WR Ryan Switzer

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#3 Ryan Switzer / WR / North Carolina: 5’9” 179lbs

The Good:

– Great attitude and extremely hard worker; finishes plays strongly
– Great route-runner
– Showed toughness when making receptions across the middle
– Nearly uncoverable on out-routes
– Very reliable hands
– Consistently found soft spots in zone coverages
– Excellent change of direction ability, very smooth in and out of breaks, and does a good job of varying speed during his routes
– Navigates traffic well and can fight through reroutes
– Great Punt-Returner

The Bad:

– Small build, with (seemingly) small wingspan; fairly limited catch-radius
– Lacks elite speed
– Ran a limited route-tree, not a deep vertical threat
– Average acceleration and jumping ability
– Slightly injury-prone (although he didn’t miss many games, he seemed to get beat up during games)
– Tended to be a “body-catcher,” needs to use his hands to secure receptions more consistently


– Career Receiving: 243 receptions, 2903 yards, 19 TDs
– 2015 First-Team All-America (American Football Coaches Association), 2013 First-Team All-America (FWAA, Athlon, ESPN.com) 2013 Second-Team All-America (USA Today, CBSsports.com) 2013 First-Team Freshman All-America (FWAA, Sporting News, 247sports.com, Athlon)
– Two-time All-America return man: 7 career punt return TDs (also had 4 additional punt return TDs that were called back), Tied the NCAA record with five punt return touchdowns in 2013

Film Breakdown:

At best, Ryan Switzer will be selected late on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. However, despite his low projection, he is a quality player who has the work ethic and toughness to contribute to an NFL team. He makes up for his small stature by running crisp routes, and he makes up for his lack of elite speed with great lateral quickness. As a result, he has the potential to be a valuable late-round sleeper who has the capability to succeed on Sundays.

In this first clip, Switzer showcases both great route-running ability and explosiveness out of his cuts. Specifically, he is running an Out-route from the slot against man coverage. He begins by stemming hard to the inside; forcing the defender to completely turn his hips to keep up. Next he squares his head/shoulders up-field, before making a sharp, square break to the outside. Notice the separation he creates, even with a borderline-hold by the defender. Finally, he does an excellent job of snapping his head back to the quarterback and running flat down the line, which prevents the trailing defender from recovering. Overall, great ankle-breaking route that wins the one-on-one matchup:

Next, Switzer demonstrates his playmaking potential by turning a routine bubble-screen into a huge gain. Although he does not have blazing speed, his sharp cuts and great vision make him very dangerous in the open field. For example, after he secures this catch against Pitt, he does a great job of patiently setting up and using his receiver’s block. He angles his path towards the receiver’s inside shoulder and keeps his head/eyes inside, before bouncing to the sideline at the last moment. Once he has cleared the block, Switzer sets up a devastating juke by subtly decelerating and balancing his body before making his cut. His small change of speed before the juke causes the pursuing defender to slightly change his angle and become off-balanced. Switzer takes advantage of the misstep and picks up nearly 20 additional yards:

These final two clips illustrate Switzer’s scrappy toughness. First against Pitt, he makes a difficult reception, despite taking a huge hit when leaping across the middle of the field. He calmly plucks the ball out of the air and quickly secures it to his body before the defender can jar it loose. His unflinching courage in situations like this will be hugely beneficial in the NFL:

Lastly, although Switzer is not the best blocking receiver in this year’s draft, he is definitely not afraid to mix it up with guys much bigger than himself when he has to. Arguably his single best attribute is deep desire to win every play, regardless of his assignment. He works extremely hard and rarely (if ever) took plays off. While this final clip is not flashy, I think it exemplifies his willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Scrappy blocks like this one, although not textbook by any means, indicate a great football mentality:

Overall, Ryan Switzer is an underrated prospect, but who nevertheless really stands out on film. There is an obvious intensity about his game that allows him to outperform his physical limitations. His precise route-running, dependability in pressure situations, and his overall intelligence made him QB Mitch Trubisky’s favorite, go-to target. As a result, despite the future challenges he will face while adapting to the aggressive nature of professional football, he is a high upside player who could be a Day 3 steal.

Projection: Late Day 3

Games Watched: vs Pittsburgh, at Florida State, vs Virginia Tech, at Miami, at Virginia, at Duke, vs NC State, vs Georgia, vs Clemson (2015), vs Duke (2015)

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoMitch Trubisky
Gareon ConleyIsaac RochellTaco CharltonElijah McGuire

About the Author

Sean McKaveney
Sean McKaveney is currently a student at the UCLA School of Law and was formerly the starting Quarterback and Team Captain for Claremont McKenna College, a Top 10 Liberal Arts school in Los Angeles. Although he grew up in Southern California, Sean was raised as a diehard Steelers fan by his father, a Pittsburgh native. The Steelers are undefeated in games that Sean has attended.
  • falconsaftey43

    He’s an excellent player. Normally a guy I’d want Steelers to target, but I dont’ see a path to playing time with Rogers firmly established and Ayers on the roster last year. Need some diversity in the WR group.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I’m going to say every other team should take him so he doesn’t end up on the Patriots cause he will chew everyone up if he plays there.

  • PapaJuju

    He’ll go to NE and become the next great white receiver.

  • PaeperCup

    Been waiting for this one. I would love to have this guy in the Slot. I think him and Rogers would work well together.

  • PaeperCup

    exactly….this guy has Patriots written all over him. Please do not let that happen.

  • steelburg

    He is Julian Edelman in 3-4 years playing with Tom Brady or Peyton Manning who has retired. He is an above average slot like Eli Roger’s playing with the next tier of QB’S like Roethlisberger, Rivers etc. On most other teams without a top level QB he won’t make much noise at all in the NFL IMO.

  • I love this guy, and I think you’re right he’d be a steal. He’s the sort of guy who plays for the Patriots and leaves us all wondering how it is we don’t have a guy like that after he completely torches us.

    That said, I think the Steelers are pretty much set at slot receiver with Eli and perhaps also Ayers. Maybe he could supplant Ayers, and if he’s really that good you do what you can to get him on the field (the Patriots certainly figure it out), but if the Steelers draft a WR I suspect it’ll be a taller, faster, more vertical guy who could challenge Coates.

    But on Day 3? Yes, I’d still take him.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    He’s probably a better prospect than Rogers but not really enough to burn a pick on him. He’s the kind of guy that Brady could turn into a star though.

  • Clifford Taz Johnson

    I’m tired of people keep saying we are set at wr. Last I remembered they ain’t do nothing against the Patriots. I say round 5 we take him

  • PaeperCup

    I agree to an extent. Bryant hopefully will be back, Coates hopefully will be healthy. Rogers is coming along as a slot WR. DHB is pretty solid too.

    But that’s 2 maybe’s and a “we might be able to do better”

    I like Switzer, I’m not sure if we would be able to use him effectively. But I want to.

  • RMSteeler

    Does he play Lacrosse? 😉


    It really does not matter whether he is white, black or brown what matters is that he is a talented receiver and because of that talent, he will be successful.

  • PapaJuju

    Sorry, I did a poor job of indicating my sarcasm. But it does matter what color you are. Short, small, white receivers are categorized and stigmatized.

    I was joking that him being short, white, and talented would automatically make the pundits put him as a draft pick for NE.


    No problem PapaJuju we are all proud Steeler Fans!!! I feel you!!

  • steelburg

    The team definitely isn’t set we have 2 big question marks Coates and Bryant who need to show they can be reliable. But we are definitely set at slot with Rogers and Ayers. A 5th-7th round speedster would be idea

  • NinjaMountie

    If I’m picking a white WR, which every team needs lol, I’m going Cooper Kupp.

  • Paddy

    Another player Hoodie will be after.

  • Roger G

    I wonder what the Steelers could get for Martavis in a trade if they were so inclined.

  • Dshoff

    I live down here in Carolina and this guy is the real deal. I think that we are set at slot though. However, if he were still available in the 6th round, we would have to take him. Great returner as well.

  • Applebite

    Truth be told, I don’t care about the racial background of a player. It never even occurs to me to think like that. And I’m pretty sure that most franchises feel the same. With that said, I’m not so sure about this guy. There are a couple of others running around in this draft, however, aside from Cupp.

    Could we get a profile on Travin Dural, WR, LSU?

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  • LucasY59

    IF they are drafting a UNC WR, I hope its Mack Hollins, big fast guy will contibute on STs (not as a returner) if both he and Switzer are UDFAs I would sign them both, but the Depth chart is already pretty crowded so both might end up on the PS

  • Aj Gentile

    I want to know how Sean can do these breakdowns while in law school. That’s impressive.

  • Michael James

    Late day 3? I politely disagree here. I would be shocked if he was still there in round 5. He’s just a natural football player, a winner. It’s not that he’s that bad of an athlete either. just because he wins more with his brain than his athleticism doesn’t really warrant criticism imho. I would take him over most WRs in a heartbeat.