In part one of the series on expectations for the 2017 Dallas Cowboys, I talked about the great expectations for Dak Prescott improving on his excellent rookie campaign.
Today, we’re looking at one of the 2017 rookies; Ryan Switzer.
The moment Ryan Switzer was drafted the comparisons to Cole Beasley were almost immediate. We know that Beasley isn’t going anywhere. He has a great rapport with quarterback Dak Prescott so it’s unlikely that Switzer is going to take any of Beasley’s snaps.
While Beasley is an obvious comparison, based on their size, I think that Switzer may be more of a Ty Montgomery, Danny Woodhead, Lance Dunbar, and Tyreek Hill (minus the speed) type of player for the 2017 Dallas Cowboys.
Where Will Ryan Switzer’s Playing Time Come From?
Ryan Switzer on Offense
As many have already suggested, Switzer — who was drafted in the fourth round out of North Carolina — will have a chance to take Lucky Whitehead’s job in the offseason and thus take his offensive snaps.
Whitehead was used primarily as a gadget player in the offense. He’s had some WOW moments as well as some facepalm moments. It’s the facepalm moments that have opened the door to a competition at wide receiver.
Whitehead’s offensive role was limited to only 13% of the snaps during the season. Part of that is due to his limitations as a pass catcher and the team’s minimal use of five wide receiver sets.
In fact, when they went empty backfield, it was with four wide receivers and Jason Witten lined up as the in-line tight end. Their other empty backfield formation was with Ezekiel Elliott motioning out of the backfield.
Whitehead only received 13 touches on offense in 2016, which is actually down from his 2015 total of 16.
Ryan Switzer comes with more of a pass catching resume than Whitehead, catching 96 passes for over 1,100 yards as the top option for number-2 overall pick, Mitch Trubisky.
Lucky Whitehead’s best season saw him catch 76 passes for 706 yards and six touchdowns. In his only other full-time season, he caught nine passes.
Switzer had three seasons with more than 50 catches, including the 96-catch senior season. He also scored offensive touchdowns each of his four seasons at UNC, totaling 19.
The other place in which Ryan Switzer could help the team is in the Lance Dunbar role and his 13% share of the team’s offensive snaps. Dunbar is now a member of the Los Angeles Rams and many have been longing for a scat-back type to replace him on the roster.
What if that scat back is actually listed as a wide receiver?
Not sure if you’re aware, because I didn’t know until after the draft, but Switzer played running back in high school and was really, really, really good.
In 2011 and 2012, he carried the ball 504 times for 5,175 yards (2587.5 per season), and 72 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 30 passes for 402 yards and six touchdowns. And if those numbers aren’t incredible enough, he tallied four interceptions his junior year, returning two for touchdowns. Stats taken from 24/7 Sports.
Kinda wish I would have lived in West Virginia to get a chance to watch young Ryan play. He must have been electric in high school.
The Green Bay Packers opened the door to converting running back-turned-wide receiver, back into a running back with what they did with Ty Montgomery in 2016. If they were willing to make him the feature back for a team that went to the NFC Championship game, surely the Dallas Cowboys can carve out some snaps for someone who was a really effective back in high school.
And before you start with the “but that was high school” stuff, lets remember Rico Gathers, who hasn’t played football since the eighth grade.
To me, Ryan Switzer is the answer to two positions on the team.
He’s the Lucky Whitehead “gadget” guy and the Lance Dunbar “scat-back” guy all rolled into one. Perhaps he is Inspector Gadget.
There is a minimum of 282 offensive snaps available to Switzer to earn, with a shot to take some from receiver Brice Butler as well. As things have been going in OTAs and minicamp, Switzer may just be able to do that.
Ryan Switzer on Special Teams
With an emphasis on special, Switzer was a very special returner for the Tar Heels. He was widely regarded as the best returner in the 2017 NFL Draft, even by himself.
His best season was as a freshmen when he averaged 20.7 yards per punt return and scored five touchdowns. As a junior, he averaged 13.7 yards per punt return and scored two more touchdowns.
Whitehead has much more experience as a kick returner than Switzer does, but hasn’t been effective. As a punt returner, Lucky has only averaged 6.9 yards per return on his career.
In college, Switzer averaged 10.9 yards per return for his career.
Between Whitehead and Dunbar there are 208 snaps available on special teams. I’d imagine he’d also get some work on kickoff and punt coverage as well.
With what Switzer can do as a receiver, runner, and returner, it seems that there will be a nice role for him during the 2017 season. I’d expect him to see anywhere from 300-450 snaps this season, even if everyone is healthy.
If one of the wide receivers gets hurt, I expect that number to go up.