Saints Draft

Draft Profile: WR/KR Ryan Switzer

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Dec 30, 2016; El Paso, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels Ryan Switzer (3) celebrates by holding up his hands after catching a touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal defense at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2016; El Paso, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels Ryan Switzer (3) celebrates by holding up his hands after catching a touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal defense at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Orleans Saints are in the market for a KR. And they’ll be one of many teams with UNC’s Ryan Switzer on their radar.

The New Orleans Saints have struggled recently in the return game. Almost comically so.

In the seventh round of the 2015 draft, they picked RB Marcus Murphy for the KR role. Murphy made the final roster but struggled throughout the season with muffed kicks and fumbles. The struggles continued into 2016, when finally Sean Payton benched Murphy for RB Travaris Cadet. Cadet fared no better.

Nov 19, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Ryan Switzer (3) reacts after a touchdown catch in the first quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 19, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Ryan Switzer (3) reacts after a touchdown catch in the first quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Analysts have linked the Saints to a number of prospective return men in the draft, perhaps none more enticingly than LSU’s Tre’Davious White. New Orleans natives have waited years for Sean Payton to draft an LSU product. With the Saints thin at CB and KR, there’s reason to believe this may be the year. Payton has never played a CB in the return role, but with White I wouldn’t be surprised to see that change.

But looking at where the Saints picks fall, I’m not sure White is in the cards. Drafting him with the 11th pick would be a reach, and there’s no telling whether or not White will be around by their second.

If the Saints do come out of the early rounds without a competent KR, then I’d love to see them go after a player like Ryan Switzer.

Switzer is projected to be a mid-to-late-round pick. Draftwire and NFL Draft Geek have Switzer as ranked as high as the 93rd best prospect in the nation, while CBS has him as low as 163rd.

But after a strong showing as a receiver at the Senior Bowl, Switzer is likely creeping up some draft boards. And if he falls down to those later rounds, he’d be a steal.

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Switzer plays with the controversially ranked Mitch Trubisky at North Carolina, and has throughout the season been Trubisky’s go-to guy. He’s a little guy, only 5’10 and about 180 lbs. But he’s the prototypical slot receiver. He’s got a great route-running technique, great hands, and is crazy quick. No, he’s not going to burn NFL CBs down the sideline. But he’s more than capable of getting separation from top-tier athletes with his body control. He’s got short legs, but that helps him come out of his breaks faster than many other top WR prospects. After years of Darren Sproles, that’s a trait Saints fans are familiar with.

He’s not about to usurp Willie Snead from the slot, but it never hurts to have talent on the bench. I like Brandon Coleman, but the Saints could do with some competition at WR4.

And where Switzer is most dangerous is in the return game.

You want to see a play? How about this. (Tried to upload as GIF, didn’t work.)

That’s the sort of player Ryan Switzer is. Will that get him killed in an NFL game? Yes. Will that sort of craziness get him benched? Maybe. But one thing’s for sure: if you’re looking to evaluate toughness and cojones, Switzer grades through the roof.

Like I said, Switzer isn’t the fastest straight-line guy in the world. But that’s not always the sort of player that excells in the return game. He has a great spatial awareness and is able to make the most out of limited athleticism with great running instincts and quick feet. He makes players miss, he follows blockers perfectly, and would be a welcome upgrade to any KR on the Saints roster.

For a longer highlight, check out this video.

Next: Draft Profile: RB Taquan Mizzell

Oh, and did I mention he’s got an arm? After Willie Snead threw for a touchdown against the Rams, who knows what else Payton has on the shelves.

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