Ryan Switzer is currently set to go into the NFL Draft as a potential sleeping giant in this year’s wide receiver class. While this may not be true literally, this 5’10” wide receiver has had a remarkable career with the Tar Heels. Switzer possesses a strong skill set that is bound to land him a spot as a solid contributor for any team looking for a slot receiver that can also do damage on special teams.
Ryan Switzer hung up his UNC jersey after his senior year as one of the most dynamic receivers / punt returners in the ACC. During his tenure in Chapel Hill, a short list of his accomplishments read as the following:
-All-time receptions leader
-All-time yardage leader
-All-time punt return leader
-Fell one return shy of tying the NCAA punt return record currently held by Wes Welker and Antonio Perkins
Switzer began his UNC career with a limited roll as a punt returner in 2013. He took full advantage of his role by returning five punts for touchdowns in just one season, each return for no less than 61 yards. He also managed to haul in 32 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns. The following year, Switzer began to become a more prominent role player in UNC’s offense, catching 61 passes for 757 yards and four touchdowns. His explosive play ability was nothing short of impressive, as he averaged 12.4 yards per catch. He also was #1 in the nation for 60+ yard receptions for his sophomore season.
During his junior year, Switzer saw a slight dip in receptions but still managed to pick up 694 yards and six touchdowns for the year. He ranked #1 in all-purpose plays for the year, as he continued his dominance as a punt returner while becoming a legitimate threat as a wide receiver. During his senior year, Mitch Trubisky found himself going to Switzer often as Mack Hollins went down with a season-ending injury against Miami after leading the team in receiving yards and touchdowns in 2015. Switzer took his new role in stride, exploding for 1112 and six touchdowns. Switzer finished his career with a school record 244 receptions for 2907 yards, and also 19 touchdowns.
Ryan Switzer’s high skill set has been enough to compensate for his height on the collegiate level. His route-running ability is very sharp, and a lot of this has to do with his quick feet. He is currently not thought of in the draft as a fast receiver, but he is definitely quick. His punt returning abilities exhibited his ability to make cuts and at times flat out burn defenders in space even if he’s not the fastest person on the field. During the NFL Combine, he tied for 1st in the 20 yard shuttle, showing off his quickness with a time of 4.00. He also finished the 60 yard shuttle with the second fastest time at 11.14 seconds.
Switzer’s size is also a blessing and a curse. On the blessing side of things, he has a low center of gravity that he used to his advantage a lot throughout his career. There were a lot of times when it looked like he was going to get tackled for what would’ve only been a 7-10 yard gain that he managed to turn into a 20+ yard gain with his ability to duck under arm tackles and stay on his feet when taking hits where defenders failed to wrap him up. He also had great technique in terms of creating separation from his defenders before the catch, managing to get around inside leverage techniques in order to gain enough of a position to find the ball in his hands. Speaking of his hands, Switzer’s hands were also some of the best on the team, rarely dropping passes that were thrown his way.
The biggest knock on Ryan Switzer going into this draft is easily his size. At 5’10”, it is safe to say that his role is more than likely going to be that of a slot receiver for whichever team picks him up in the draft. With his size also comes the issue of his catch radius, which is very limited due to his arm length. The good news is that his success with Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky throwing to him proves that it can be done, but the type of defenses Switzer will see will be a little more varied than what he saw at UNC. Switzer faced a lot of cover defenses in the ACC, and while he did face his share of man to man the NFL is a whole other beast in terms of the corners he will face.
As mentioned earlier, Switzer is a quick receiver but he’s not the fastest coming out of this draft class. He primarily plays at his top speed, and so it will definitely be a “what you see is what you get” situation in terms of how much he can accelerate in open space. He’s managed to make up with this with his ability to make cuts and juke opponents as mentioned before, and so playing at the slot is very much an ideal situation for him as he should be able to use his route-running abilities and cutting ability against nickel defenders to gain separation.
Ryan Switzer has a good chance of getting drafted somewhere between the 4th and 6th rounds in this year. CBS Sports has Switzer projected to get drafted in either the 4th or 5th round. Fox Sports has him getting drafted on day two, ranked as the 14th receiver overall. There may be a team that sees a strong enough value in him to take him a bit higher, but because of his specific skill-set he will need to go to a team that is in need of a slot receiver and/or a return specialist. He definitely has a great chance to make a solid impact on which ever team is willing to give him the opportunity to show why he was a record-setting receiver during his tenure at Carolina.