With all the talk about improving the defense during the offseason, the Dallas Cowboys also had another thing in mind during the 2017 draft - add more weapons for the franchise quarterback.
They appear to have done that.
With the team’s fourth-round selection in the draft, the Cowboys surprised many and took Ryan Switzer in the fourth round.
What are the Dallas Cowboys getting in Ryan Switzer?
A dangerous weapon for Dak Prescott.
The former North Carolina star has been turning heads from the moment he stepped onto the field for the Cowboys. Throughout rookie camp and OTA’s, Switzer has showcased the talent that intrigued Dallas so much.
The man who calls the plays for the Dallas Cowboys loves what he has seen from Swizter thus far, mentioning that he would love to use both he and Cole Beasely on the field together.
“He’s a classic slot receiver,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said, via Jon Machota. “He has a similar game [to Beasley], but he has his own things. We would really like those two guys to be able to complement each other and run real similar route trees. Certainly a huge bonus with him is his ability to be a returner in our special teams.”
Linehan went on to say that the fourth-round rookie receiver’s “role is significant”.
“His role is significant,” Linehan said. “You can see right now he’s getting reps that we wouldn’t have . . . if he wasn’t here. He complements Beasley and also gives us some big-time needed depth at that position.”
Ryan Switzer was known for making play after play for the North Carolina Tar Heels during his career in Chapel Hill. The quick and elusive receiver made highlight reel plays many times with the ball in his hands. Brandon Anderson of the Tar Heel Blog points out that Switzer possessed some of the surest hands of all of college football last season:
A big part of what Ryan Switzer has been able to show off is his catching ability. During the OTAs, Switzer managed to haul in a one-handed catch from Prescott near the right sideline and get both feet inbounds. This is of little surprise to UNC fans, as Switzer had the lowest dropped pass rate in 2016 in all of college football. He finished the season with 1,112 receiving yards and six touchdowns
With all the weapons around the Dallas Cowboys offense, Dak Prescott is drooling about adding another weapon to his disposal.
Below are Switzer’s career numbers during his time as a Tar Heel.
Switzer arrived to Chapel Hill as a three-star athlete with the ability to play all over the field. During his first season wearing Carolina Blue, the West Virginia native saw most of his playing time returning kicks. Switzer played in all thirteen games and eclipsed over 340 yards receiving in a relatively limited role. The do-it-all athlete totaled 370 yards from scrimmage — 8.8 yards per play — and found the end zone three times on offense.
As a sophomore, Switzer saw his time at receiver increase. As his role increased, so did the numbers. Just two years out of high school, the quick receiver caught 61 passes for 757 yards — a team high that season — and four touchdowns. Switzer continued to showcase his big play ability as he averaged over 12 yards per reception in his second-year campaign.
Switzer continued to produce from the slot during his third collegiate season. He caught 54 passes for 693 yards and continued to up his touchdown number — this time with six scores from scrimmage. The lethal slot was a big reason why the Tar Heels appeared in the ACC Championship Game and gave Clemson all that they could handle.
Ryan Switzer’s fourth and final season on the collegiate level was his biggest — especially at wideout.
With former starter Marquise Williams graduated and Mitchell Trubisky behind center, Switz had his best season from the slot. The Cowboys’ fourth-round selection grabbed 35 more passes than his previous season high, he eclipsed 1,000 yards, and found the end zone six times. Switzer proved he can be a lethal weapon in the slot — both on quick routes and on deep balls.
Here is a glimpse of what Cowboys fan can expect to see of Switzer in Dallas’ offense:
Playing in the slot, Switzer gives defenses headaches. Dak had a lot of success with Cole Beasley last season, so imagine with both on the field together.
As good as he was from the slot, Switzer may be even more dangerous returning kicks. In fact, he is one of the better kick returners in college football history.
Per his profile on UNC’s football website, Switzer earned first-team All-American honors as a kick returner during his freshman season. His first season in college. Wow.
The Tar Heel Blog notes of Switzer’s incredible freshman campaign:
As a freshman, Switzer was named a first-team All-American as a return man. He became the first Tar Heel since 1977, and 3rd Tar Heel ever, to be named All-ACC as a freshman. He tied the NCAA record with five punt return touchdowns in a season. Switzer also set a UNC single-season record for punt return average (20.9) and total yards in a season with 502. Switzer also tied the NCAA record for three consecutive games with a punt return touchdown.
Switzer made a career of making a huge impact in the return game. Whether it was scoring touchdowns from 70 yards out or helping his team in the battle of field position, Switzer was a weapon on special teams. So much, in fact, that North Carolina calls him “one of the most electrifying players in college football with his ability to return punts and make defenders miss” on his UNC bio.
Here is a look at Switzer’s impact on special teams during his highly successful collegiate career:
From the moment he stepped foot onto campus, Switzer made his impact felt on special teams.
Switz returned 24 punts in 13 games for over 500 yards — over 20 yards per return! He found the end zone five times and always made sure to put his team in great field position. The spectacular freshman campaign earned him first-team All-American honors as a punt return man by both the FWAA and Athlon Sports.
Following his stellar freshman season, Switzer continued to showcase his elite talent in the return game. While his numbers dipped a little compared to an amazing 2013 season, Switzer still totaled 474 yards and two touchdowns over the course of his next seasons. Switzer proved time and time again that he is one of the best to do it at that position. Just let his aforementioned bio on UNC’s website speak for his success:
Selected to play in the Reese's Senior Bowl • Two-time All-America return man who was a consistent threat in the passing game during his UNC career • One of the most electrifying players in college football with his ability to return punts and make defenders miss • Tied the NCAA record with five punt return touchdowns in 2013, added two more in 2015, and finished one shy of the NCAA career mark • Owns the ACC mark with seven career punt return touchdowns • Set UNC records for career receptions (244), career receiving yards (2,907), career punt return yards (1,082), career punt return touchdowns (7) and single-season receptions (96 in 2016).
Below, he breaks the NCAA record for punt return touchdowns:
Although he does not take the kick all the way back to the house, Switzer’s return skills and instincts gives his team excellent field position — something the Cowboys will greatly welcome.
According to dallascowboys.com, the 133rd selection of the 2017 NFL Draft believes he is the best returner in the entire draft. His numbers definitely back it up.
“I think I'm the best returner in the draft, and I think Dallas knew that,” Switzer proclaimed definitively.
Between returning kicks for the Dallas Cowboys and his reported “significant role” in the Cowboys offense, be excited about how dangerous Ryan Switzer will make the Dallas Cowboys for years to come.
*Note: all stats gathered from sports-reference.com and gifs are courtesy of Draft Breakdown.
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