JuJu Smith-Schuster
Is JuJu Smith-Schuster overrated? Are we sure JuJu is even the best wide receiver on his own team? Smith-Schuster is far from perfect. (Justin K. Aller/Getty)

I’m not sure an organization is better at drafting and developing wide receivers than the Pittsburgh Steelers. JuJu Smith-Schuster is one of many examples. Smith-Schuster was drafted behind players like Corey Davis, John Ross, and Curtis Samuel and emerged as a much better player.

However, is JuJu Smith-Schuster overrated? When Antonio Brown left, this was supposed to be the JuJu show. It’s been anything but. Worse yet, I still think Smith-Schuster isn’t the best wide receiver on his team.

The 2020 season should be considered a defining moment for the former USC product. Smith-Schuster started his career as a reliable number two behind Brown. 2019 should be thrown out altogether. Of course, it’s reasonable to expect him to take a step back. 2020 was the year! Except, it hasn’t been.

Diontae Johnson was the best wide receiver for the Steelers in the early stages of the season. Johnson led Pittsburgh in pretty much every category. Injuries have limited Johnson the last few weeks, but there’s no question how talented he is.

Then we have Chase Claypool, who just exploded for a four-touchdown performance against the Eagles. It didn’t take long to see that the rookie from Notre Dame has star potential written all over him. Claypool is too big and fast and creates problems all over the field.

Where are the four-touchdown performances from Smith-Schuster? How are two other receivers on his team overshadowing him? The truth of the matter is, Smith-Schuster might be a little overrated here. By no means does the guy suck, but there are real deficiencies in his game.

For starters, Smith-Schuster isn’t the fleetest of foot; 4.54 – 40 times isn’t a death sentence, but by no means is he fast. Smith-Schuster is also a little clunky in his route combinations (which is why I didn’t love him coming out of the draft). On routes that Smith-Schuster is targeted, he creates 0.92 yards of separation from his defender. That’s good enough for number 102 in the NFL.

Pittsburgh is a good organization, so they have found ways to make him work. Smith-Schuster works exclusively out of the slot. Smith-Schuster has the fifth most routes run in the slot in the entire league. Often he’s too big for slot corners and can win those match-ups. Furthermore, he also catches everything—credit to the Steelers just for putting him in a position to succeed.

Through four games, Smith-Schuster has 21 receptions for 188 yards and three touchdowns. I need more than that as the most established receiver in this offense. The good news is Smith-Schuster might not be done growing. Smith-Schuster is still just 23-years-old and was drafted in 2017 somehow. That doesn’t even make sense!

It’s time for JuJu Smith-Schuster to take the next step. Right now, the name value is a lot more valuable than the production on the field. The player we see right now is overrated.

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