JuJu Smith-Schuster Wouldn’t Trade Being Drafted By Pittsburgh For Anything

Relative to pre-draft expectations, I don’t think that many people would argue that Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster ‘slid’ very far in the draft, if at all. You might recall that many Steelers fans were not thrilled with his selection—many because of the position, but also those who would rather have taken another receiver.

Given the way that his rookie season, has gone, of course, currently being regarded as one of the young darlings of the entire league, from the saga of his stolen bicycle to his nationally-publicized post-touchdown celebrations, Smith-Schuster is even garnering attention when it comes to the fan portion of the Pro Bowl voting procedure.

Considering the fact that he actually ranks 24th league-wide in receiving yardage, after not even seeing a target in his first game, that’s actually pretty impressive. But he leads all rookies, by a comfortable margin, in that category, as his 568 receiving yards is the only total of 500 or more, the closest being the Rams’ Cooper Kupp with 481.

He is also the only rookie wide receiver with five touchdown receptions, and one of only two rookies, the other being Giants first-round tight end Evan Engram, who has had to play a huge role this year in the absence of both of New York’s starting wide receivers.

While his 33 receptions for rookies is tied for the sixth-most—far behind running back Christian McCaffery’s 57—nobody with 15 or more receptions is averaging as many yards per catch, currently at 17.2 yards per reception. It is also the third-most among those with at least 10 receptions.

He and Engram are the only rookies with seven explosive receiving plays, while he and Kenny Golladay are the only rookies with three receptions of 40 yards or more, and his first-down percentage of 81.8 is the highest of all rookies with more than five receptions.

Basically, any way you look at it, Smith-Schuster has been about as productive as a pass-catcher as any rookie in the league, and the Steelers are grateful to have him, while other teams are kicking themselves for not taking him.

Predictably, that led to somebody asking him in the locker room yesterday if he felt he should have been drafted higher. His draft classmate, running back James Conner, was behind him and warned him, only partially jokingly, not to take the bait.

He didn’t, of course. Not on his 21st birthday. He simply said what you would expect him to say. While it is the other teams’ loss who chose not to draft him, he is happy to be in Pittsburgh, in this city, on this team, with these teammates, and that he wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I doubt there are many Steelers fans who would trade him for another player in the second round during a draft re-do exercise at this point, either. At least, there shouldn’t be. He’s a starting wide receiver on the team in the AFC with the best record.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Orlysteel

    Ju’re the man Ju.

  • Steve Johnson

    I’m not going to even lie, when the pick was announced, I said what the hell!

  • Steeldog22

    Colbert knows what he’s doing.

  • StolenUpVotes

    Exactly why I don’t get butt hurt over picks. The FO has earned the benefit of the doubt

  • StolenUpVotes

    I never got why people felt this way. After watching Coates, Hamilton, and Rogers being the guys lining up with AB for a season i always thought the position was a bigger need than most

  • steelburg

    I said the same thing. But when I said it, it was more in the form of we have enough WR’s. I thought he was drafted in the right round I just didn’t think we need him. But boy was I wrong. He brings a different dynamic to the WR group. I saw a lot of boldin and Ward comparisons and people were spot on he is definitely in there mold. They brought in a skill set with juju that we didn’t have in the other guys and he fits in perfectly.

  • John Noh

    I had a different experience. When the pick was announced, one of buddies who is a Niners and USC fan texted me saying “damn it, you guys don’t need a WR, the Niners could have really used this guy.”

    I knew we might have had something then.

  • Lambert58

    JuJu is a phenomenal person and player. Another tremendous find for Colbert, Tomlin & Co.

  • Steeler Nation!

    I wasn’t too fired up about it either. I figured it was mostly part of the MB insurance policy, so I understood it. It’s turned out he’s a whole lot more than that. I love his hands and ability to win contested balls. He’s a keeper.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    I actually predicted the Steelers picking a WR in the 2nd round – only it was Chris Godwin

  • nutty32

    Almost no drops, fumbles, wrong patterns leading to picks very impressive for a rook. Cooper Cupp already has 2 huge game losing plays.

  • cencalsteeler

    This draft class is nothing but a breath of fresh air and I hope the trend continues. I’d much rather have a tier two type player who’s clean, than a tier one who brings baggage to this organization. Kudos to Colbert and Co.!

  • IndianaCarson

    Wasn’t it the recommendation of USC’s Athletic Director, aka Lynn Swann that the Steelers should draft him?

  • Chris92021

    JuJu was picked I believe for two reasons:
    1. We could not trust Martavis Bryant (off the field) or Sammie Coates (on the field) to be the consistent second option to AB.

    2. Once Bell left the New England game injured, the Patriots locked up AB and we had no answers. No, those garbage time passes to Eli Rogers don’t count. Eli Rogers is alright but he isn’t anyone scary enough to make any DB quake in their cleats.

    JuJu is a tough kid who is a quick learner. Remember back in week 1 when he had more penalties than catches? Remember back in week 6 when he didn’t field the free kick? Yeah, he has not made mistakes like that again. He might make a mistake but he won’t make it again. That is impressive for a young player in pro football. JuJu is much faster than anyone could have envisioned and he makes tough catches. If you weren’t sold on JuJu, just watch that 3rd and 11 in the 3rd quarter last Thursday. I don’t know anyone else on the team not named Antonio Brown who can make that play consistently other than JuJu. We are lucky to have him.

  • pittfan

    As the season has gone on, he seems to have cleaned up the early holding calls he was getting. Quick learner!

  • dany

    To be fair, you need both to have a really successful team

  • Lee Foo Young

    Same here.

  • Steve

    Really like Juju’s blocks downfield. Juju was a very good pickup for the Steelers and will produce for years to come. With Watt, Juju and Conner, this was a good draft.

  • Steeler Nation!

    And hopefully Sutton!

  • MC

    They went for character and work ethic and it’s definitely paying off

  • Brenton deed

    I know what you’re saying but don’t sell him short he could be tier one!

  • Brenton deed

    I thought they were pissed because all the DBs worth that pick were gone so they took best value. Based on that assumption he must’ve been rated higher than that pick by the FO since plan A was to pick a DB they thought would be there.
    No proof of any of this of course … just my imagining.

  • Steeler Nation!

    Yeah that is what we all expected-CB in the 2nd, WR in the 3rd or later. The Haden pickup bailed us out.

  • Steeler Nation!

    I agree we are lucky to have him. He is a quick study, and it is that intellectual capacity that enables him to play fast. There are fast guys that don’t play that fast, and there are guys who seem to play faster than their 40 times would indicate. There’s a lot to like with this kid.

  • Brenton deed

    I guess people assumed MB would light it up… all the reports were that he was looking awesome and the unstated expectation was that he’d fit back in with ease.
    In retrospect I think he did too and that has caused his recent frustrations… other people’s expectations probably didn’t serve MB well.
    Anyway… the FO knew better.

  • cencalsteeler

    Let’s hope so!

  • Matthew Marczi

    I’m not sure if he explicitly advise the Steelers to draft him (he may have, for all I know), but his connection certainly helped.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I need to publicly admit that I was wrong about the Steelers drafting Ju Ju.

    I never thought he was a bad player. I never thought he was a bad fit. But I did think the position he played was a “luxury” that we could not afford in the 2nd round.

    You see, I assumed that Martavis would return to his old form, and that we would offer him an extension. That doesn’t appear to be the case. I’m not even blaming Martavis. I like the guy. I hope we keep him. But once again, the front office is privy to details and evaluations that we fans may not know about. And it seems that Ju Ju has the skill set to be more productive in our particular offense than Bryant.

    It also goes to show you that sometimes the BPA theory is in fact the smartest way to draft. Colbert had Ju Ju as the best player on the board. A game changing type player. And he didn’t want to pass him up to “reach” for a need. He was right.

    Now, that doesn’t mean the Steelers don’t make mistakes during the draft. They make mistakes every year. But whoever is doing the evaluations/scouting on the college WR prospects needs a raise, because that dude(s) is doing one helluva job.

    I previously thought we should have drafted Shaquille Griffen or Fabian Moreau, because we needed another high caliber CB so badly. But as of right now, it seems that the combination of Ju Ju + Joe Haden is a better way to win a Super Bowl THIS YEAR than vice versa. And if it works, Kevin Colbert deserves a gold medal.

    On top of all that, Ju Ju is so likable of a personality, it really makes you proud to be a Steelers fan. I’m probably gonna have to buy ANOTHER Steelers jersey this off season (this time with the number 19 on it) but it’s well worth the money. Great kid. Great Steeler.

  • razaard2

    Bpa and focus on player character. Build from the draft. I don’t care if there are better ways to build a roster, I’ll stick to the Steelers way rather than robotically cutting some of your stars a la Belichik

  • FATCAT716

    We are so lucky to have him for so many reasons. I feel he is making the game fun on offense with his unselfish demeanor. He’s willing to do the dirty work with his blocking, he also lends his self on celebrations just to give his teammates glory. Like being the bench for Bell & show he ain’t worthy on AB TD. Small things mean alot & he has helped this team in so many small as well as big

  • Orlysteel

    I think the there was an article here stating that Tee Martin a former Steelers back up quarterback who’s now on the USC coaching staff spoke with someone in the Steelers camp about Ju Ju.