The Minnesota Vikings don’t often chase speedy receivers in the NFL Draft, but the fastest player in college football appears to be on the team’s radar this season.
Auburn prospect Anthony Schwartz ran an unofficial 4.26-second 40-yard dash at the War Eagles’ pro day on March 18, where he met with the Vikings and was confident that he proved he’s more than just a straight-line speedster.
Schwartz has also gone under the wing of Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss, training with the Vikings legend in Tampa Bay during the offseason to help refine his athleticism into on-field talent.
“I just want to show to scouts I’m more than just a deep-ball guy, I’m more than just a quote-unquote ‘track guy,’” Schwartz said on his pro day, via AL.com. “I’m an NFL receiver.”
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Schwartz’s World-Class Speed
Let’s get the hype of Schwartz’s speed out of the way. The Florida native won several national track awards and helped Team USA win a gold medal in the 4×100 relay at the U20 World Championships.
Schwartz has been clocked running a 10.07-second 100-yard dash, which would have finished .01 seconds slower than the eighth-place runner at the 2017 Rio Summer Olympics.
He’s that fast.
But how that speed translates to the football field is a different conversation.
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Schwartz Models His Game After Tyreek Hill
Schwartz was electrifying his freshman year when he immediately demonstrated his home-run hitting ability by scoring two receiving touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns.
The 6-foot, 186-pounder was used as a gadget offensive weapon through his early years at Auburn before he was used sparingly on the ground his junior year, allowing him to shine as a true wide receiver. He racked up 636 receiving yards and three touchdowns and likely could have produced more with improved quarterback play.
Schwartz opted out of the 2021 season due to COVID-19 and declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. He has continued to train two-a-days while beginning to study what types of receivers he’d like to emulate in the NFL, including All-Pros Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs.
“I’ve been watching a lot of Tyreek Hill just how he’s able to use his speed in and out of breaks — how he’s able to run with the ball and run his routes with his speed,” Schwartz said on March 18, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s something I’ve been trying to model, something I’m just trying to see things in his game that I can bring into my game. I’ve also been watching Stefon Diggs because he’s a receiver similar to my size and how he’s able to just release off the ball and run clean, crisp routes. That’s something I’ve been watching, too.”
Is Schwartz Fit for the Vikings?
Yes, the Vikings are set with Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook as the three primary weapons on offense.
However, Minnesota could use more versatility at the third wide receiver spot. Schwartz has been projected as a day two or day three prospect in the upcoming draft, which wouldn’t cost the Vikings a ransom.
To take his game to the next level, Schwartz would need to develop into a competent run blocker and overcome his smaller frame against larger cornerbacks and safeties in the NFL. Pro Football Network’s scouting report describes the 20-year-old as a high-upside No. 3 wideout with proper coaching.
“Schwartz is a terrific athlete with a second gear and the ability to break big plays, yet he needs to polish and complete his game,” NFL Draft analyst Oliver Hodgkinson wrote. “He comes with a large upside, and if properly coached, Schwartz could develop into a third receiver at the next level.”
New wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell, who was a two-time Pro Bowl receiver with similar skills and size to Schwartz, could help the Auburn alumnus unlock his potential and provide the Vikings offense with a true deep-threat weapon.
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