Steelers Add WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

The Pittsburgh Steelers added a wide receiver to what seems to be a three-ring circus at the position.

PITTSBURGH -- Worried about Martavis Bryant much?

The Pittsburgh Steelers, still reeling from a shredding at the hands of Tom Brady and looking at a talented crop of defensive backs in the 2017 draft, instead chose wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster of Southern Cal with their second-round pick on Friday night.

Smith-Schuster is a 6-1 1/2, 215-pounder with 4.54 speed who caught 70 passes last season for 914 yards and 10 touchdowns.

In three full seasons at USC, Smith-Schuster caught 213 passes at 14.5 yards per catch with 25 touchdowns. He won't turn 21 until November.

"I think he’s the youngest in the draft," said Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. "As you know in the last few years we’ve had good success with young guys like that that. We feel like we are getting them early enough to really make an impact on their development. 

"He is a good-sized receiver. He was very productive out there at USC. He is a really do-it-all guy. He can play inside, outside. If you had to say what he excelled at, I’d say his ability to catch the ball in combative situations, 50/50 balls as we call them, and he usually comes down with them. He’s a really exciting guy and we are excited to get him here to work on."

Haley was asked five questions, with the fifth question on whether Smith-Schuster was insurance in case of a lapse by Bryant, who's recently returned from a year-long suspension.

Haley responded that, no, it wasn't about insurance and the interview was abruptly ended.

Bryant, meanwhile, tweeted that (sic) "lol that's Sammie coates replacement not minds take it how you want to I am back."

To which Coates replied "Hahahahahaha."

And to which Mike Tomlin replied, "Play nice boys."

Bryant then deleted his tweet and Coates responded that he will see everyone Monday.

Good thing the interview with the adult was ended, right?

As for Smith-Schuster, he's talented, young, tough, big-bodied, is difficult to bring down after the catch, but, according to draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki, "He has some diva in him."

Haven't we suffered enough?

But Nawrocki did add that, "It usually comes across constructively. He's extremely competitive and hates to lose and it gets him in trouble sometimes."

"I'd say he's very competitive and passionate about what he does," Haley said. "That shows up in the run game, which is an exciting thing for us. He’s not a guy that’s afraid to stick his nose in there and block safeties and even some linebackers. He plays with a great passion, which is one of the exciting things about him." 

Smith-Schuster grew up in Long Beach, California, and reportedly remained close to home to stay near his church. He added the Schuster to his last name at the age of 18 to honor his stepfather. He was asked last night about his unique first name.

"Growing up as a kid, my aunt called me John-John and Joe-Joe, then Choo-Choo. It finally went to JuJu," Smith-Schuster said.

The prospect understands he's headed to the team for which his Athletic Director at USC, Lynn Swann, helped win four Super Bowls.

"He always gave me advice about staying focused, always staying positive, keep working hard, don’t give up, just keep going strong," Smith-Schuster said. "He said 'Whatever team gets you, it’s going to be special. You just have to keep fighting.' He didn’t talk about me going to the Steelers or anything like that. It was just advice about being a good person and keep working hard."

While the Steelers might be worried about Bryant and his propensity for self-destruction, it's also true their depth chart is very thin behind Bryant and Antonio Brown and the addition of a receiver was necessary in this draft.


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