There are a lot of positives the Cleveland Browns can take away from their Week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. For the second time in eight months, the Browns went toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Kansas City and could have left the game on the winning side of things.
One of Sunday’s most exciting developments for the Browns was what rookie receiver Anthony Schwartz brought to the table. The Browns drafted Schwartz in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft to add an element to their offense that was lacking a year ago and the pick is already paying dividends. Schwartz had a big role to play on offense in the absence of Odell Backham Jr. and made the most of his opportunity.
The Browns need to stretch the field more in 2021 than they did in 2020—and let me tell you, Schwartz is the ultimate field-stretcher. Schwartz ran a ridiculous 4.26u at Auburn’s Pro Day leading up to the draft. It was well known within the scouting community that Schwartz was the fastest receiver in the draft. Schwartz has the athleticism and speed necessary to translate his skill set into on-field efficiency. It didn’t take long for Schwartz to showcase his talent on the NFL field.
The highlight of Schwartz’s day came on a 44-yard deep ball. Schwartz was all alone on the play and did a nice job corralling the ball as he went down to the ground.
That 44-yard grab caught the attention of the NFL’s Next Gen Stats. Schwartz reached a top speed of 20.23 mph on the play and later topped it by hitting 20.43 mph on a 17-yard rushing attempt.
Schwartz finished his first NFL game by totaling 83 yards on just four touches. That’s the type of big-play explosiveness the Browns needed more of from their pass-catchers a year ago.
Everybody knows Cleveland loves to run the ball. They have one of the league’s most dynamic one-two punches at the tailback position in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. As a team, the Browns rushed for 2,374 yards a year ago. Only the Baltimore Ravens (3,071) and Tennessee Titans (2,690) rushed for more yards in 2020. This is a run-first team. Their 495 rushing attempts in 2020 placed them in the top five of that category. It’s the type of offense that risks becoming predictable at times. Running the ball as frequently as the Browns did in 2020 will make defenses feel comfortable about playing eight in the box and daring Baker Mayfield to beat them with his arm.
That’s where a true speedster comes into play. The Browns might pride themselves on their ability to run the ball with great effectiveness, but they still have to take a deep shot every once in a while to keep the defense honest. Using a top-100 selection on Schwartz indicates that this fact isn’t lost on them and his first-game usage was exactly what it should have been. Schwartz’s ability to take the top off the defense should make life easier for Chubb and Hunt on occasion. Schwartz is going to be a deep threat for Cleveland’s passing offense in 2021 and it will have a positive trickle-down effect on the entire offense.