As a die-hard Washington Redskins' fan, it pained me when my least favorite NFL squad drafted former North Carolina wide receiver Ryan Switzer in the fourth round.
I've followed ACC football closely for the last few years and have become accustomed to watching Switzer dominate on Saturdays, despite checking in at just 5-foot-8 and 181 pounds.
Over the last five or so years, the slot WR has become a staple for most NFL squads. He is small and shifty. He's tough and reliable. He's almost always overlooked heading into the NFL Draft, but in the middle and late rounds a team that has done its homework makes the selection.
It felt like former Patriots' slot man Wes Welker started the trend. Since then, New England has become a factory for these types of guys. Julian Edleman and Danny Amendola as of late, with Chris Hogan playing a similar role when called upon.
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For the Redskins, it's Jamison Crowder. Doug Baldwin in Seattle. Golden Tate in Detroit. Cole Beasley in Dallas. We could list the names of the NFL's best slot players all day long, but this piece is more about Switzer, and less about the rest of the league.
Swtizer's speed and route running ability made him one of Carolina's top targets over the last few seasons. In 2016, the Tar Heels' most underrated resource hauled in 96 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns.
Here's part of Switzer's draft profile put together by NFL.com to give you a better look into his skillset.
"Sudden feet to shake press defenders out of his release. Plays at his top speed and doesn't coast. Accelerates and separates on speed outs. Utilizes repeatable footwork in routes. Patters are crisp."
RYAN SWITZER WELCOME TO DALLAS pic.twitter.com/V0c3jrMvMi
— #SWITZERSZN ❄️ (@tmerce16) April 29, 2017
The new Cowboys' weapon makes his living with exceptional route running and agility. Just take a look at this route from a game last season. That was a thing of beauty.
Oh, and he can do this.
New #Cowboys WR @Switz03 can do this… pic.twitter.com/89Xir4MyYa
— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) May 1, 2017
Clearly the Cowboys have Beasley in the fold, and the thought of a four-man WR set with Switzer on the other side is nothing short of terrifying. Eventually, the former UNC standout will probably replace Beasley, but at least for now, they will play as a slot tandem.
One thing that isn't talked about enough is Switzer's ability to thrive beyond his role as a pass catcher. The undersized speedster had seven touchdowns as a punt returner during his time in Chapel Hill. Clearly the Cowboys — who haven't had a punt return for a touchdown since 2013 — will throw Switzer into the fire almost immediately as a special teams ace while letting him groom in the receivers room. It's a dream scenario.
The Cowboys haven't had a punt return TD since '13
Enter 4th rd pick Ryan Switzer #NFLDraft https://t.co/6NYbb38TxV pic.twitter.com/mi0g6rGdCt
— Joey Hayden (@_joeyhayden) April 29, 2017
If it sounds like I'm an advocate for Switzer, I am. I'm far from a UNC football fan and clearly hate the Cowboys, but I recognize talent when I see it. This kid will become a household name in the NFL. Mark my word.