North Carolina Tar Heels speedy slot receiver Ryan Switzer has been drafted by the Dallas Cowboys with the 27th pick of the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. After a standout career as one of the best wide receivers in Tar Heels history, Switzer leaves as the school record holder for career receptions and receiving yards. Now he has an opportunity with the Cowboys to turn all that college success into a professional career.
Dallas has made their transition official by releasing long-time quarterback Tony Romo to make way for 23-year-old Dak Prescott to be their leading man. The team has a strong running back in Ezekiel Elliott, but need help at the receiver position. The Cowboys have drafted Switzer in hopes that he can fill their need for a slot receiver going forward.
Measuring in at only five-foot-nine, Switzer has had to defy the odds to become the talented and productive player that he is today. It seemed like every year he was doing something even more impressive than the season before. As a freshman, he was the nation’s premiere punt returner by averaging 20.9 yards per return. As one of the team’s go-to receivers in his sophomore and junior seasons, Switzer accumulated over 1,400 yards while averaging just over 12 yards per attempt.
It wasn’t until his senior year that he even blew his own production out of the water. In 2016, Switzer made 96 receptions for 1,112 yards while averaging 11.6 yards per attempt. When it was all said and done, he set the UNC single-season record for receptions and yards. Over his four-year career, he was named All-American in 2013 and 2015, as well as first-team All-ACC honors in 2013, 2015, and 2016.
As gifted as he is, he remained available on day three because of his aforementioned height challenges, and because many NFL scouts believe he is limited as a receiver. He doesn’t have a large catch radius due to his size and bigger and better defenders will be able to get in his way more often that they did in college. He will need an accurate quarterback to be useful.
It is also believed that much of his success was due, at least in part, to the team around him. Switzer had strong college quarterbacks in Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky throwing to him, and Carolina’s playing style was uniquely in tune with his strengths. NFL.com throws out names like Wes Welker and Julian Edelman, who were both undersized slot receivers who utilize option routes, but don’t expect Switzer to be in their league.