Cleveland Browns: Anthony Schwartz will have big role immediately

May 14, 2021; Berea, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Anthony Schwartz (10) catches a pass during rookie minicamp at the Cleveland Browns Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2021; Berea, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Anthony Schwartz (10) catches a pass during rookie minicamp at the Cleveland Browns Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Anthony Schwartz comes into the Cleveland Browns wide receiver room as a third-round rookie but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a pivotal part of the offense right away. 

With the 91st pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Auburn wide receiver, Anthony Schwartz. While there were a few names earlier the Browns may have missed out on like Baltimore Ravens’ wide receiver Rashod Bateman and New York Jets’ Elijah Moore, they ultimately landed the Auburn speedster at the end of the third round.

He now enters a crowded room in Cleveland, headlined by superstar Odell Beckham Jr. and his buddy Jarvis Landry. Also included in that room are sturdy and reliable veteran Rashard Higgins, 2020 sixth-rounder Donovan Peoples-Jones, and special teams ace Khadarel Hodge.

Do not be mistaken, however, as Schwartz is still primed to have a big role with the Browns in 2021.

Schwartz’ speed sets him apart

When you have a skill that nobody else has, there is a spot for you on the field. And Schwartz has lethal speed that is rare to see in the NFL. Remember D.K. Metcalf’s 100-meter dash that had the internet freaking out?

Schwartz ran a faster time in high school when he won the Florida State Championship. Going back to his pro day, Schwartz burned a sub-4.3-second 40-yard dash as well, putting that world-class speed on full display.

Sure, Beckham Jr. and Peoples-Jones have the ability to separate and work down the field outside the numbers, but Schwartz has the ability to break the game open at any point by exploding the top off of the defense. Another added bonus to his speed? Schwartz also ran an outside zone scheme at Auburn, making his transition to the NFL a bit easier than others.

Analyzing Schwartz’s role with the Cleveland Browns in 2021

A year ago, the Browns desperately tried to get their run game working horizontally by sending JoJo Natson in motion and on jet sweeps. Natson went down fairly early in the season, and with the injury of Beckham Jr., the Browns then lacked the speed to do such a thing for the rest of the year. This looks to be a role primed for Schwartz to take over as a rookie, and a role he played well at Auburn.

Even beyond a gadget role, Schwartz has the ability to eat into the snaps of both Landry and Higgins as the Z receiver opposite of Beckham Jr. and Peoples-Jones at the X. The likes of Landry, Higgins, and Schwartz are all likely to see snaps in various packages at the Z, with all three also having some slot versatility as well (and Higgins has the ability to play a handful of snaps on the line of scrimmage too).

While Schwartz has been known to be pegged as a one-speed burner, he admitted to me on a pre-draft call that he has room to grow in his route tempo (the ability to add another gear or two to his game to get in and out of breaks quicker). He stated that he was working with one of the best route runners in the game in Stefon Diggs, and we now know he has been working with Landry as well. His intention is to be able to play upwards of 60 percent of his snaps outside the numbers at the next level.

If the Auburn burner can learn to tempo his speed instead of going full speed off the snap and develops as a route runner, then Schwartz has the potential to take over as the starting Z in 2022. With Higgins on another one-year deal, and Landry’s deal pricing himself out, there is a chance neither are on the roster next season.

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Regardless of what happens in 2022, however, Schwartz has the speed that will keep him on the field as a rookie this year in both the slot and in the Z, as well as an extension of the run game on screens and jet sweeps. Will he push for Offensive Rookie of the Year? No. But Schwartz’s game-breaking ability will be utilized and featured by the Browns immediately.