Ryan Switzer is the 5’8 firecracker of a wide receiver who made a name for himself by doing one thing exceedingly well while playing at North Carolina.
Punt to him. I triple-dog dare ya. Sure, he only ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, but Switzer’s fast. Anyone who’s ever tried to chase him down on punt returns will attest to that.
That’s one of the seven punt returns he brought back to the house for touchdowns and the fifth he had as a freshman in 2013. Even if wideout doesn’t work out at the next level, he’s got a role set with skills like that.
He wasn’t a slouch as a WR, though. As a senior, UNC’s career receptions record-holder was voted first-team All-ACC and had 96 receptions, good for 10th nationally. That included a game in which he hauled in 16 catches from Mitchell Trubisky, the likely first QB off the board in this year’s draft.
So now let’s discuss the comparison that gets made about some smaller wide receiver every year, especially if it’s a white guy: “Wes Welker type.”
“Yeah, it’s happened quite a bit,’’ Welker himself said about hearing the comparison. “When I left [Texas Tech], my coaches would say, ‘He’s a Wes Welker type of guy,’ and everything like that. So it’s kind of everywhere now, which is cool.”
Switzer was selected in the fourth round by the Dallas Cowboys.
He joins Cole Beasley in Dallas’ WR room. Beasley himself is used to the white receiver cliches as well.
Pumped that slot guys are gettin' drafted now. Welker paved the way. #production— Cole Beasley (@Bease11) April 29, 2017
We laugh about the white slot receiver cliche, but Switzer does have a lot of obvious correlations with Welker.
- Welker’s one of two men in FBS history to have returned more punts for TDs than Switzer.
- They both starred as college slot WRs who were deadly on punt returns.
- They both caught 240-plus passes as four-year college contributors, with nearly the same stat lines (95-plus catches for about 1,100 yards) as seniors in spread offenses.
- They’re within three quarters of an inch of each other, height-wise.
- Switzer’s a little speedier, and Welker’s a little stockier, but they both had four-second times in the 20-yard shuttle, an excellent mark in a drill meant to measure agility and change of direction, crucial traits for slot receivers.
Switzer’s ability to run routes from the slot and beat nickel defenders makes him a solid developmental slot WR for the Patriots. Like Welker, his sudden and quick acceleration makes him an ideal candidate to run routes in the middle of the field against linebackers and safeties, as well as return punts.
“Wes was just a little bit before his time, before the slot receiver/returner was really valued.” Switzer said when asked about the comparison. “And I think it’s valued at what it is today because of guys like Wes Welker and Julian Edelman.”
Take a look at the testing numbers for each, bearing in mind that Welker wasn’t invited to the combine in his draft year, 2004. (He went undrafted.)
Ryan Switzer and Wes Welker
|Drill||Switzer - combine||Welker - pro day|
|Drill||Switzer - combine||Welker - pro day|
There’s a list of other receivers who, because they were white, automatically got slapped with the Welker tag.
- Danny Amendola was the most prominent. He followed Welker both at Texas Tech and at New England. They’re close to each other in the Red Raiders history books. But Amendola’s a bit of a bigger body, while still being in the slot mold. He’s got about three inches on Welker, and he’s used a bit of different way. Mainly, he goes down the field a bit more often.
- Edelman is a frequent comparison, but he was a quarterback in college who only lines up in the slot about half the time.
- Danny Woodhead also comes to mind, but he played much more running back than slot receiver.
- The latest in the perceived Welker line for New England is Chris Hogan. Although Hogan studied Welker, he plays on the outside and is nearly five inches taller.
But Switzer will in fact join the Cowboys’ young core of exciting young skill players forming a triumvirate with Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott to continue to pursue an elusive world championship in this millennium for America’s Team. The last time they won a Super Bowl, Barry Switzer was the head man.
But no, Ryan’s not related to Barry, although Barry did call Ryan’s father just to make sure as the young Tar Heel’s career ascended, now he’s landed in the NFL.
“He just talked about where he was from, where we are from. He wondered if it was a possibility if we were related,” Michael Switzer said.
“[Barry] said if Ryan wasn’t any good, he wouldn’t claim him.”