Last season around this time, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded their fourth-round pick to the San Fransisco 49ers for the 49ers fifth-round pick and Vance McDonald. In a very similar move a year later, the Steelers sent a fifth rounder to the Oakland Raiders for a Ryan Switzer and a sixth-round pick.
Ryan Switzer is a wide receiver entering his second season in the NFL. While it is not rare for a fourth-round pick to journey through the NFL, Switzer took a different path making his way to his third team before year two of his career kicks off.
Switzer has been traded twice in the past five months. First, Dallas sent Switzer to Oakland for defensive tackle Jihan Ward. Now, Switzer finds himself on yet another team, despite never being released.
While the draft pick swap is a full round lower than Vance McDonald last year, the team had plans for McDonald last year and have even bigger plans for him in 2018. With that in mind, the team did not move down in the 2019 draft with the intentions of cutting Switzer and making him inactive. What does he bring that could help benefit them?
Return game value
The Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled to find help in the return game for years. As a rookie, Switzer returned 29 punts and 24 kicks. He had an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown and a long of 61 as a kick return. Ryan Switzer was named to the All-Rookie team as a return man.
Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster play big roles in the return game. The team has tried to unseat Brown with Eli Rogers, but Rogers has proven too unreliable. It is in the Steelers intentions to move these two out of these roles, and Switzer could be the viable competition to do so.
Speaking of Eli Rogers, his seat just got very hot. Rogers is starting the season on the PUP, as he comes back from an ACL injury. The NFL also recently announced that Rogers will be suspended for one game for violating the leagues banned substance abuse policy.
Eli Rogers had a tight leash as it was. As mentioned, he has blown a couple of chances at the starting punt returner job, and was benched for a game against Miami for breaking a team rule in 2016.
Switzer is very similar to Rogers stylistically. He was much more productive in college and has a higher draft pedigree. Add in a better return resume in the NFL, and you have a younger, less injured version of Rogers with a lot more upside.
Eli Rogers was signed this summer but did spread feelers out to other teams first. It feels as though the team has found themselves a better option for his job while having him recover from his injury on their watch.
Switzer could come in, fail to learn the playbook, fumble a punt and end up on the IR. In that case, Rogers will still be around by Week 6. If the Pittsburgh Steelers get to Week 6 and Ryan Switzer has punt return value with a catch or two per game thrown in, Eli Rogers is going to be let go.
It will be on Switzer to earn it, but a role is in mind for him with this trade. Can the Pittsburgh Steelers upgrade from Eli Rogers?