The Cleveland Browns wide receivers room will draw a lot of interest this season.
Behind the four-time Pro Bowl veteran Amari Cooper, there are a lot of young and relatively inexperienced players.
Among them is second-year player Anthony Schwartz.
Schwartz’s speed is what made him an interesting draft prospect for the Browns.
His ball-handling and route-running skills were considered a work-in-progress.
In his rookie season, there were definite ups and downs.
He had 10 catches for 135 yards with 1 touchdown; he was targeted 23 times.
The difference one year makes.
— Nick Karns (@karnsies817) May 11, 2022
Does Schwartz need to have a make-or-break 2022 to ensure he has a spot on the 2023 roster?
The answer is no, and here are the reasons why.
1. Draft Picks Are Developmental Prospects
In most cases, NFL draft picks need time to make the transition from college to the NFL ranks.
That is particularly true during the COVID-19 era when college seasons were abridged or rescheduled in recent years.
Those changed college schedules led to different protocols for NFL training camps, virtual meetings, and other amended processes which impacted the development of college players just entering the NFL.
Players like Schwartz, who is a track star, need developmental time, and thankfully, Browns general manager Andrew Berry has always viewed draft picks as developmental prospects.
Andrew Berry puts emphasis on 'longer-term focus' rather than 'instant gratification' with draft picks
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) April 24, 2021
The timeline could vary by player, but barring disastrous play, two seasons is not enough time to judge Schwartz.
#Browns Alex Van Pelt said Anthony Schwartz is catching the ball well so far and showing improvement from last season.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) June 1, 2022
With that being said, he does need to improve year over year which sounds like it is happening according to Alex Van Pelt‘s recent assessment of Schwartz during OTAs.
2. Rookie Contracts Are Cheap
Given the exorbitant dollars of NFL contract extensions, rookie contracts are cheap by comparison.
Schwartz is entering the second year of his four-year deal worth $4.86 million.
As long as the Browns have at least one established veteran, in this case, Cooper, to lean on, they can adopt a wait-and-see outlook for young players.
Arguably, Donovan Peoples-Jones, entering his third season, is on a shorter timeline to produce than Schwartz.
3. Browns Offense Will Look Very Different In 2022
Given all of the personnel changes on the Browns’ offense, it could take time for things to gel.
That means the Browns might have to exercise patience, especially with the massive quarterback and wide receiver turnover.
#Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said WR Anthony Schwartz is not forgotten and they're counting on him to have a big year
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) April 30, 2022
There is also plenty of well-documented uncertainty as to Deshaun Watson‘s status for the season.
All of these reasons give players like Schwartz more time to find their footing on this roster.