JuJu Might Return Immediate Dividends On 3rd Downs And Inside Red Zone

It will be interesting to see how quickly new Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster can be fully integrated into the team’s offense during his rookie season and one would think that will likely happen sooner rather than later being as the team selected him in the second-round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

A few ways to get the USC product on the field early during the 2017 season might be situationally and that means on third downs and inside the red-zone.

During his three seasons at USC, Smith-Schuster proved to be a valuable commodity in those two situational areas. On third downs during his college career, Smith-Schuster registered 49 third down catches by my count and 34 of those either moved chains or were touchdowns.

While I haven’t yet compiled all his total career college targets on third downs, I can tell that my quick research of the 2016 season shows he caught 20 of 33 passes thrown his way and that 17 of his receptions resulted in either first downs or touchdowns. I am currently compiling all 20 of those receptions for you to watch so check this post later this evening for that video.

As for Smith-Schuster potentially being a red-zone asset to the Steelers right out of the chute, it appears the young wide receiver caught 24 such passes thrown his way during his college career when the USC offense started a play from their opposition’s 20-yard-line and in. 17 of those receptions produced either a touchdown (12 times) or a first down (5 times).

Last year during the regular season the Steelers had seven different wide receivers who caught passes on plays that started on the opposition’s 20-yard-line and in and only three of them, Antonio Brown, Eli Rogers and Sammie Coates, registered more than one reception in that area of the field.

While the presumed return of Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant in 2017 figures to be a big boost to the team’s red-zone offense being as seven of his career touchdown receptions have come in that area of the field, having Smith-Schuster on the field in those situations could likely make it even harder on opposing defenses to defend those very important blades of grass.

  • William Weaver

    18/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. Seriously considering “investing” a thousand. Lol

  • WreckIess

    With the amount of weapons we have on offense, scoring shouldn’t be an issue let alone in the red zone.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    That stat is maddening. You have 16 games to set up the run and play action. Yet only AB, Eli and Coates caught more than 1 pass when down in the Red Zone. I have to blame Ben for that. You have to look for the bigger targets more as they might get hit but still hold onto the ball.

    Wow, that stat is worrisome. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t think it was that bad.

  • RickM

    Why is it worrisome? When you look at the other 4 WR’s, Hamilton isn’t going to catch many, DHB and Wheaton were hurt and Ayers barely played. Ben did throw to bigger guys. Jesse James had 7 catches in the Red Zone. Green didn’t have any but he only played 1/3 of the season and got very few snaps for several of those games.

  • H.K. northern cali

    Can’t wait to see what this guy and M.B do for the offense. Should take it too another level! !

  • cencalsteeler

    I remember most of us saying that last season ,too. 🙁

  • Xclewsive

    JuJu is a bigger version of Eli Rogers.

  • Steelsmoke

    Just let him play if he earns it. I hate when everyone knows the play because it is so obvious.

  • J Jones

    I honestly cant see how eli makes the team. He’s the least athletic, softest member of our receiving corps. Unless he comes into the season stronger, and tougher i really cant see his role. I know everyone is down on DHB, but he is one of the most versatile players on the team, and his speed and physicality are rare. Eli really doesnt specialize at anything. Maybe we should trade him for a 5th rd pick

  • RickM

    Rogers had one of the best first years for any Steelers’ receiver in recent memory (13 games, 48 receptions, 600 yards). Far better than Sanders, AB or Wheaton (finger injury). The only guy who topped him was Wallace and just barely when you look at receiving yards per game. Rogers also had one of the highest YPC slot averages in the league at 12.4 yards. There is a 0% chance Eli won’t make the 53.

  • AndyR34

    Agreed…we still have the same redzone ineffective QB and OC.

  • J Jones

    First off was just making kinda a darkhorse prediction. I know the #s, i also know hes horrible at picking up yac. Not sure what more upside he offers…hes a decent slot receiver. You throw up his stats but fail to mention that 4 receivers ahead of him on the depth chart missed time. Who else was Ben gonna throw it to? You compare his #s to other receivers but would be the first to admit that he is not as physically gifted as any of the comps. Stop with the 0 percent and the shade, bro. Was just giving my opinion, no need to be an ass about it. Enjoy the debate, chill with talking down tho

  • Jonas

    We can’t run 4 verticals every play. Rogers specializes on route running and probably will be even more nuanced this year.

    Thus, I’d take him instead of a 3rd deep threat.

  • J Jones

    Completely logical, im sure im in the minority but i think ayers has a great shot to take over for eli. More dynamic and tougher imo

  • RickM

    I re-read my response to you and there was not anything remotely rude about it. I guess anyone who disagrees with you qualifies as an “ass” No I don’t agree with you that he isn’t physical. Most of his catches were in the centre of the field and no receiver routinely goes into that territory who is physically soft. I gave my opinion dude without name-calling. Try it sometime and thin skin attitude.

  • J Jones

    Whenever your response includes “idk what you were watching” ima take offense to it. And while he isnt physical, i meant as physically gifted as AB, Sanders, Wallace, or JuJu. Hes a decent prospect, i just dont see the upside especially if hes not returning kicks.

  • J Jones

    And i know u edited your comment. Cmon bro lets just be real and talk football

  • Kevin Schwartz

    I’m getting irrationally excited for JuJu. I need to calm down until he actually does something.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    Given the ‘pass first’ nature of today’s NFL, it is logical to say that JuJu will help in the RZ.
    However, personally I think the Terminator (aka Conner) or a big back like him is the best option. Play action, handoff to Conner, TOUCHDOWN STEELERS!!!!

  • Milliken Steeler

    The last two seasons actually. I’m not trying to be negative, but between suspensions and all of the talk, I think we have under achieved on offense. I’m hoping we turn into the unstoppable juggernaut, we all think they can be.

  • Milliken Steeler

    I don’t see how Eli, doesn’t make the team. maybe drop to the number four receiver at the very least but there still are all of the ifs. If Ju Ju starts like he is shot out of a canon, if Bryant, keeps out of trouble, if Coates gets his confidence and his fingers back etc.

  • J Jones

    Definitely a lot of ifs, but and im also just putting it out there that i think we need DHB. Say every wr is healthy and playing up to their potential. If i had to chose 2 out of DHB, Ayers, or Eli in my opinion i think Ayers has a higher ceiling than Eli so i’d take Ayers and DHB leaving Eli out in the cold. Just me, but i think the competition between Ayers and Eli is close if both are healthy and at the top of their game…

  • RickM

    The words “I don’t know what you were watching” aren’t even in my comment and never were. I have no idea what you’re even talking about.

  • J Jones

    Damn bro, you realize that i get an email when someone comments, so therefore your original comment is still there. Just read it again this a.m. I could cut and paste it here, but nobody is interested in seeing you lose credibility because of your suspect character. No need to go there. Just here to talk football ricki

  • Milliken Steeler

    Sorry to post this here but am I the only one that has the hearts and smarts article as the last new one posted on Steelers Depot? I’m not getting any new articles.