With the Chiefs trading away Tyreek Hill and signing JuJu Smith-Schuster, can JuJu take over as the number one in Kansas City?
The Chiefs not only traded Hill, but they also lost two of their other wide receivers from last season, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson. Only Mecole Hardman and Josh Gordon stayed put in the receiving room and neither proved to be a premiere top option for Patrick Mahomes. In fact, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has to get used to a number of new receiving targets ahead of the 2022 season.
With the signing of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes Scantling, and Corey Coleman, it is now time to see who is the lead dog in the receiving room. The Chiefs added former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to a one-year deal worth $10.75 million.
Is JuJu Smith-Schuster capable of becoming Patrick Mahomes’ number one receiver?
He did a phenomenal job during his first two seasons in the league in Pittsburgh as the number two behind Antonio Brown. His receiving numbers went down once Antonio Brown was traded and Ben Roethlisberger was injured. JuJu is also coming off of a broken collarbone injury that sidelined him for 15 weeks, only for him to return in the Wild Card round against the Chiefs.
Now let’s say the Kansas City Chiefs see this as a low-risk-high-reward situation as they only signed him for one year. Should it not work out, they could easily part ways with Smith-Schuster. Andy Reid’s playbook is known to be very complicated, as many players can take more than a year to acclimate to it. If JuJu can get the playbook down this offseason he has a shot to thrive in Kansas City.
“Over the years we had gotten a little bit smaller,” Reid said. “We did have [Byron] Pringle and we did have [Demarcus Robinson], and that was kind of your size. These two [JuJu and MVS] we brought in now, they’re really good players and good-sized and can run. I’m excited to see them play.”
JuJu Smith Schuster is not as fast as Hardman and Valdes Scantling, but he is way more physical. JuJu was one of the best-blocking receivers in the league, the Steelers constantly ran screens on his side of the field with him leading the way on the edge. He played quite a lot as a slot receiver and could find himself playing a role similar to Travis Kelce in the offense.
“I’m a different type of guy,” Smith Schuster said. “I’m a little bit more built. You’ve got speedster guys who can run down the field. I’m the type of guy, great hands, a little bit like Travis [Kelce], great hands, big dude that can run and block, physical blocking in the run game. There’s so much I can do to help this team.”
JuJu Smith-Schuster is also great at catching the ball in space across the middle as he is very physical. He is not known as a great route runner before the catch, but once he’s got the ball, he can be violent and very tough to bring down.
Smith-Schuster is hoping for a change, as his last year was limited to five games and no touchdowns for the first time in his NFL career. He will be motivated to prove he is back to his former self, competing with the best receivers out there to earn his spot as one of the best in the game.