Cleveland Browns Senior Bowl watch: wide receiver Ryan Switzer
The Cleveland Browns seem set at wide receiver, but if they fall in love with North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer during the Senior Bowl that could change.
The Cleveland Browns surprised many people during the 2016 NFL Draft by selecting four wide receivers.
Among the group of Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis and Jordan Payton only Coleman, the team’s first-round selection, made much of an impact on the field. (Payton, on the other hand, made an impact off the field after being suspended for the season’s final four games after violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.)
While the Browns may be comfortable heading into the season with the status quo at the wide receiver position, that could change this week as the coaching staff works with North Carolina wide receiver Ryan Switzer.
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The 5-foot-9 and 179-pound Switzer was a two-time All-American after finishing with seven punt returns for touchdowns – one shy of the NCAA record. (A mark he would have broken if four of his touchdown returns were not wiped out by penalties.)
He set school records for career receptions with 244, career receiving yards with 2,907, and career punt return yards with 1,082.
He also set the Tar Heels’ single-season record for receptions with 96 this past season while catching passes from quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who is from Mentor in case you had not heard.
Switzer now has a chance to impress wide receivers coach Al Saunders at the Senior Bowl as a member of the South team roster coached by Cleveland’s staff.
“I’m continuing to work hard, continuing to try to give myself the best opportunity to succeed at the next level,” Switzer told The Charlotte Observer this week. “I’m a football player, plain and simple. I win my one-on-one matchups. I’m a witty guy when it comes to zone coverages – I tend to find my open spot. I got reliable hands. I’m tough. I mean, I could go on and on about my attributes that I think I possess. But this week it’ll be just about going out and playing some football.”
"What Switzer may lack in stature, he makes up for in quickness and confidence. He is perfectly suited to today’s up-tempo NFL, offering Swiss Army Knife-like versatility to make plays as a receiver, returner and even occasional running back or wildcat quarterback."
Switzer has also stood out in practices at the Senior Bowl, according to NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks:
"Two other prospects that impressed me on Tuesday at wide receiver — North Carolina’s Ryan Switzerand Texas A&M’s Josh Reynolds. Switzer impressed me with his route-running ability, his quickness in and out of breaks and his ability to separate. He has a knack for getting open. To cast him as a slot receiver-only is doing him a disservice. He runs routes where he can get open on the perimeter. As for a comp, he reminds me of how Cole Beasley has impacted the Cowboys in terms of being a pass-catcher who can get open on third down and move the chains."
Even with Coleman and, presumably Terrelle Pryor, a potential free agent that the Browns are working to re-sign, on the roster Jackson and Saunders may fall in love with the idea of a receiver who is “perfectly suited for today’s up-tempo NFL” and who has a “knack for getting open.”
The Browns also received virtually nothing from the punt return game in 2016, averaging just 6.7 yards per return and resorting, at times, to putting cornerbacks Joe Haden and Tramon Williams on return duty. An explosive player like Switzer, who can add a threat as a punt returner and in the passing game, may appeal to Jackson.
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Most draft projections place Switzer in the fifth round, where the Browns have two selections, meaning that he could be a name that the Browns keep handy during draft weekend.