Ever since Antonio Brown left Pittsburgh JuJu Smith-Schuster has failed to recreate his early success. Many have questioned his ability to be the number one receiver on an NFL roster. Will he be able to prove his doubters wrong this season in Kansas City?
Success as a No. 2
In JuJu Smith-Schuster’s first two seasons in Pittsburgh, he was behind All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown. During this time Smith-Schuster became one of the league’s best number two receivers as he racked up 2,300 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in two seasons. He was even voted to his first pro bowl as the result of his sophomore campaign.
Due to his early career success in Pittsburgh, Brown left with many speculating a sudden downhill relationship with Smith-Schuster being one of the causes for his departure. The Steelers would be confident in Smith-Schuster filling in his shoes, as he went into the next season as the primary receiver.
Downfall as a No. 1
The next three seasons after Brown’s departure didn’t go as planned for the young receiver. With every season Smith-Schuster failed to produce up to the level that he had in his first two seasons. In his first year as the starter he only accumulated 552 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 12 games, this is also the year where injuries became a concern. Smith-Schuster played in all 16 games in 2020 but was targeted 38 times less than he was as a backup to Brown. Fans started to speculate that he was not able to be a team’s best receiver. And in 2021 just 5 weeks in Smith-Schuster suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and was never able to prove himself in Pittsburgh.
This offseason Smith-Schuster signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, but the question still remains. Can he be an NFL team’s best receiver?
New Life in Kansas City
As of now JuJu Smith-Schuster is number one on the Chiefs’ wide receiver depth chart. This comes as no surprise as Tyreek Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins. Smith-Schuster will be able to show his full talent in a pass-heavy offense. He will also be playing with the most talented Quarterback he has ever played with in Patrick Mahomes.
There will be less pressure on Smith-Schuster as one may think. The number one receiving option in this offense is still tight end Travis Kelce. This will allow Smith-Schuster some of the same freedom that he thrived in while being behind Antonio Brown. While there are a plethora of receivers in this offense Smith-Schuster will have an opportunity to become the pro bowler that he once was in Pittsburgh and thrive in this receiver-friendly offense that Andy Reid has built.
Smith-Schuster will still have to prove that he can be the number one option for a team. But, Kansas City will be a great opportunity for this young receiver to shine and regain his confidence.